Bill Targets Early Coordination Between SHA and Locals

Andrea Mansfield, on behalf on MACo, testified in support of HB 854, State Highway Administration – Relocation of Water and Sewer Lines – Cost Sharing, to the Senate Finance Committee on April 5, 2016.

This bill would require the State Highway Administration (SHA) to work with a local jurisdiction to develop a plan to share the costs of relocating water and sewer lines if it’s necessary to do so as part of the cost of a federal project. During a House hearing held by the Environment and Transportation Committee, SHA offered amendments to create a collaborative process between the affected parties, and both the sponsor and MACo endorsed the amended bill as a helpful compromise.

From the MACo testimony,

The intent of HB 854 is to ease the cost borne by local jurisdictions for the relocation of water and sewer lines that may be required by federal facilities relocating in Maryland, such as those being performed under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) or other federal facility relocation. 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, SHA is required to reimburse a publicly owned utility for the cost of relocating any facility of the publicly owned utility if 1) federal funds are available to the State for certain types of roadways and interstate highways; and 2) the payment would be required for the relocation of a facility of a nonpublicly owned utility. These qualifications leave local governments with no avenue to seek reimbursement for the relocation of water and sewer lines around military installations, or other locations in which a federal facility may locate.

With counties bearing the brunt of these ongoing costs, assistance from SHA to investigate funding sources and the establishment of a payment plan to assist local jurisdictions with paying these costs seems reasonable.

For this reason, MACo would urge the Committee to give HB 854 a FAVORABLE report.

This bill passed the House (135-0) on March 19, 2016.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.