After Gov. Larry Hogan released his budget plans and supplemental budget proposal for fiscal 2016, some Prince George’s County municipalities are left waiting to endure the local effects. Hogan’s proposed supplemental budget for fiscal 2016 indicates the portion of highway user revenue distributed to local governments will increase by $25 million, totaling to $194.3 million […]
After Gov. Larry Hogan released his budget plans and supplemental budget proposal for fiscal 2016, some Prince George’s County municipalities are left waiting to endure the local effects.
Hogan’s proposed supplemental budget for fiscal 2016 indicates the portion of highway user revenue distributed to local governments will increase by $25 million, totaling to $194.3 million throughout the state. If passed, $19 million of that sum will be distributed across municipalities.
Hogan’s initial budget proposal allocated county municipalities with $1.4 million in highway user revenues. The supplemental budget adds an additional $3.9 million in revenue.
State highway user funds contribute to the amount of money a municipality has to invest in road repairs, snow removal and street paving. David Brinkley, secretary of budget and management for the governor, said the total funds are distributed across municipalities according to a formula-based system, considering a municipality’s size, the number of vehicle registrations it has and the amount of road mileage across the city.
For Greenbelt, the proposed budget and the supplemental funding will determine how the city will be able to maintain its streets, said City Manager Michael McLaughlin.
The original budget proposal allocated Greenbelt roughly $100,000 in funding. The funds, plus those included in the supplemental budget, would bring the city’s state highway user funding to about $325,000, McLaughlin said, which is close to last year’s funding.
Bowie is slated to receive about $458,914, according to the proposed budget. The supplemental funding and the formula-based addition would bump Bowie’s highway user funds to roughly $1.4 million, which Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said is about $200,000 more than the city received last year.
Bowie Finance Director Byron Matthews said keeping up with street maintenance is a huge priority for the city. The highway user funds are put toward the city’s street resurfacing program to determine where, when and how streets are repaired.
“How many roads they can improve depends on the money they have coming in,” Matthews said. “It could adversely affect us when the funds are cut, and it benefits us when the highway user revenues are more.”
McLaughlin said he is not able to comment on how the proposed budget will directly affect Greenbelt residents yet, but continuing to push for more capital funding and road maintenance is among his top priorities.
“I’m expecting and would not be surprised if (the public works department) bring(s) me a report on the Greenbelt streets that recommends that we do more resurfacing and repair work than we have had budgeted in recent years,” McLaughlin said.
Former Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced one-time supplemental appropriations to increase the amount of highway user revenue municipalities received during his final two years in office. As a result, Greenbelt received an additional $200,000 to the formula-allocated money during fiscal 2014 and 2015 while Bowie received an additional $1 million.
“(The fiscal 2016 funding) will keep our head above water,” Robinson said. “And as much as I appreciate it, it’s still less than what we should be getting.”
Robinson said for preventative street maintenance, Bowie attempts to work on about 10 percent of its streets each year. The roads get damaged, and if the streets are not kept up, extra money would be needed for repairs.
But because the supplemental budget still must pass through the General Assembly before funding is set, officials said they are concerned without having money set in stone.
“I’d like to see more certainty that it will be approved,” McLaughlin said. “New governor, new General Assembly, not sure what sort of initiatives are going to get approved and what sort of initiatives are not going to get approved.”
Brinkley said he is unsure how the submitted budget will end up after it is finalized, but it is likely there will be changes to it, especially after officials start analyzing how the current fiscal year wraps up.
“There’s absolutely reason for concern,” Brinkley said. “It’s a two-pronged approach, the governor submits the budget and these notions and ideas … it’s a give and take. The legislature has their say.”
McLaughlin said because of the economic recession and economic changes the state has seen, the city does not receive as much in highway user revenue as it did about eight years ago, when Greenbelt received about $600,000. Throughout the past eight years, Robinson said Bowie received as much as $3.5 million and as little as $200,000.
Hogan has also proposed a bill that would change the allocation formula so that highway user funding would increase by 2.8 percent each year for eight years and reach a 30 percent hike by fiscal 2024. If passed, municipalities would be able to expect a certain amount of funding for each subsequent fiscal year, closely restoring it to where it was several years ago when the funding was high, Brinkley said.
Bowie has not seen these levels of funding for years. Although the city received $2 million in funding from the state – $1 million last year and $1 million the year after – the funding came as part of one-time allocations, Matthews said.
Brinkley said there are potential “severe challenges ahead” in order to successfully pass the bill, but Hogan is attempting to ease those challenges with his initiatives.
“This is a commitment the governor has to local governing communities, and he’s advocating for moving forward,” Brinkley said. “But we’ll have to work with the legislature, because it’s not going to happen overnight.”