MACo Supports Reimbursement of Utility Relocation Costs For Federal Projects

The Environment and Transportation Committee heard testimony on HB 920, State High Administration – Relocation of Water and Sewer Lines – Payment of Costs on March 12, 2015. Andrea Mansfield, MACo Legislative Director, presented testimony in support of this bill. This bill would require the State Highway Administration to pay for costs when a federal project drives the relocation of water or sewer lines of a publicly owned utility.

As the written testimony states:

The intent of HB 920 is to provide reimbursement for the relocation of water and sewer lines to local governments affected by federal projects, such as those being performed under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). As state roadways are being expanded or newly constructed to accommodate growth around military installations, such as those in Fort Meade or Aberdeen, local governments are being required to cover the costs of relocating water and sewer lines.

Under current law, local governments have no avenue to seek reimbursement for the relocation of water and sewer lines around military installations.

Local jurisdictions certainly incur additional expenses to provide services such as law enforcement, emergency management, and local infrastructure. These are ongoing and material costs, even when the federal project is welcome. The fiscal note indicates a cost to relocate water and sewer lines associated with current BRAC projects of $1.6 million. With counties bearing the brunt of these ongoing costs, it seems reasonable to incorporate the costs of relocating water and sewer lines into the overall cost of the federal project.

For more on MACo 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.