After Several Years of Slashed Funding Due to State Budget Cuts, City and Town Leaders Call Upon Governor, General Assembly to Restore Transportation Funding to Prerecession Level
Having endured five straight years of severe reductions in the amount of state highway user revenues designated for municipal road projects, the Maryland Municipal League (MML) – representing city and town leaders from nearly 160 municipalities around the state – is calling upon Governor Martin O’Malley and state legislators to fully restore municipalities’ share of these vital transportation funds to their prerecession level. At MML’s recent fall conference, League members unanimously approved a call for full funding of municipal highway user revenues as their sole legislative priority for the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session.
“Our cities and towns throughout Maryland have been true partners in working with the state to get through some very difficult fiscal times, for more than five years now,” said Delmar, Md. Mayor Carl Anderton, MML’s 2013-14 President. “But these drastic reductions in funding have caused incredible strains on our local government budgets and left many municipalities unable to keep up with even basic road maintenance needs and other critical transportation projects.
“We’ve been patient, but we simply can’t wait any longer for these critical needs to be addressed in cities and towns throughout the state,” added Mayor Anderton. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to ensure that full funding of highway user revenues for municipalities will be restored in the FY 2015 budget.”
For more than 60 years, the state’s largest annual local aid contribution to municipalities was highway user revenues (HURs), which were distributed to cities and towns to assist with local road maintenance and other transportation infrastructure projects. When last fully funded by the state in 2008, the program made up 80 percent of the total state-shared revenues for municipal governments. Budget cuts instituted since then by the state, in order to help balance the general fund budget, have decimated HURs in some years by as much as 96 percent – dropping from a high of approximately $45 million in fiscal year 2008 to a low of $1.6 million in FY 2011. Current year funding for the program is at $22 million, which includes $15 million from a one-time grant in the FY 2014 state budget, rather than through the statutory funding formula.