Multiple Local Transportation Funding Options Being Discussed

David Collins, for WBAL-TV, highlights the counties’ struggles over local transportation dollars.  Local governments, counties and municipalities, used to receive 30% of transportation related revenues, now they receive 9.6%. Local governments were also excluded from sharing in any of the new revenues associated with the transportation revenue bill that passed last session.

Now multiple options are being presented to get local governments back in the game.  One option would be to authorize local governments to raise their own transportation dollars.

Legislation now under consideration in Annapolis would let local jurisdictions impose higher fees to pay for local highway projects because there’s not enough gas tax increase money to go around. To make up the difference, there’s a push to allow counties to raise taxes and fees for local highway needs.

In a Department of Transportation Budget Overview briefing before the House Appropriations Committee, many members inquired whether funds set aside for the Red and Purple lines could be used to fund local transportation if federal dollars for the projects don’t come through. (Additional information can be found on Conduit Street.)

According to state transportation officials, unless Congress comes through, the Red and Purple lines may have to be shelved or even scrapped, but money tied to those projects won’t be detoured for local transportation needs.

MACo suggests a different approach.

The Maryland Association of Counties contended it’s time to restore local transportation funding, and as far as waiting for uncertain federal dollars, MACO legislative director Andrea Mansfield said, “We believe counties should be able to share in these revenues if federal funding does not come through.”

But leading State House Democrats maintain not all the money is tied up in mass transit and that there’s plenty of money for state highway projects, but they concede beefing up funding to locals should be re-visited.

Transportation funding restoration is MACo’s top priority for the session.