Local Governments to Push for Restoration of Local Roads Funding

An article in the Baltimore Sun describes the efforts of Baltimore City and the State’s 23 counties to push for a restoration of local transportation dollars during the upcoming General Assembly session.  Funding to local governments was reduced significantly over the past several years. However, cuts to local roadways have far exceeded those in other areas, averaging $350 million each year since Fiscal 2010.

From the Sun article (limited free views available):

The legislature began siphoning money collected from the gas tax and motor vehicle fees to balance the state budget in the aftermath of the recession. Lawmakers declined to reverse the change as part of last session’s debate on Maryland’s long-term transportation plan.

In the past several years, [Baltimore City Mayor] Rawlings-Blake said, the city missed out on $440 million for road maintenance and construction as Annapolis kept a larger share of the transportation revenue.

“When you take a look around and you get frustrated at the pace of road improvement, you have to take that into consideration, that our funding level has been reduced,” she said. “That has an impact.”

Other jurisdictions also experienced significant reductions in their annual share of funding.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County’s share dropped from $32 million to $3 million and Baltimore County went from $43 million to less than $4 million. Carroll County‘s share dropped from $14.5 million to $1.5 million, Harford County‘s from $16.6 million to $1.7 million and Howard County‘s from $15.9 million to $1.5 million.

MACo’s top legislative initiative for the upcoming session is a restoration of transportation funding.

Michael Sanderson, director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said pushing for restoration of the money is the group’s top legislative initiative. While the gas tax legislation will provide an infusion of cash for road projects statewide, the Assembly did not permanently restore the share going toward local governments.

Sanderson contends that as new money starts coming in as part of the increased gas tax, the legislature should return a greater share to local governments. The tax on gasoline will increase in stages through mid-2016, and the first 3.5-cent increase took effect last summer.