Debby Burgoyne knows that in a town of under 200 people, any type of monetary assistance helps with overall operations.
So when Burkittsville’s mayor learned her town is projected to receive roughly $20,700 in state highway user revenue funds and transportation grants, she was thankful — the town’s streets need the work, given all the traffic that cuts through on Md. 17.
“It couldn’t come at a better time,” Burgoyne said. “Especially with all the flooding last year, we need it.”
Burgoyne and officials from other Frederick County municipalities now know roughly how much funding to expect from Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget for highway user revenue funds and transportation grants for this upcoming budget cycle, fiscal year 2020.
Highway user revenue comes from state gas taxes, and registration and titling fees. The funds are granted to municipalities to help fund local transportation projects. Transportation grants are used for similar purposes.
The Maryland Municipal League (MML) released preliminary estimates for how much each municipality is expected to receive in highway user revenue, along with transportation grants, for fiscal 2020. According to a news release, the totals may increase, as estimates are based on prior totals, which are lower dollar amounts.
Bill Jorch, manager of government relations and research for MML, said the new formula for this year’s estimates stems from legislation passed last year. Before then, municipalities statewide received 0.4 percent of funds from the state’s transportation trust fund — that fund is made up of gas tax revenue, vehicle registration money and other similar sources, Jorch said.
The current estimates for fiscal 2020 are based on municipalities receiving 2 percent of funds from the state’s transportation trust fund, Jorch said.
Burkittsville, according to those estimates, would receive $20,708 in highway user revenue — a roughly $4,000 increase from last year. Burgoyne said that although that amount is “a drop in the bucket” in terms of how much road work Burkittsville requires, she’s happy some money is coming, especially given a dip in funds that occurred around the national recession in 2008.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen pushed for greater highway user revenue after the recession. For fiscal 2020, the city is expected to receive about $2.5 million, or about $500,000 more than last year, according to the MML estimate.
Mayor Michael O’Connor said the increase in funds is great for Frederick residents.
“Obviously, we’re excited about any dollars we can get related to highway user revenues,” O’Connor said Wednesday. “A return to historic numbers is great for the streets. It’s good for the city, and by association, it’s good for our residents and those who walk and travel our roads every day.”
O’Connor said the funds would likely be used primarily toward street maintenance, as city officials have been behind on that type of work.
In Thurmont, officials are also thankful for expected revenue increases. According to MML estimates, Thurmont would get $304,835 in highway user revenue, which is about $42,000 more than they received last year.
Linda Joyce, chief financial officer of Thurmont, said this estimate will help town officials better plan their budget for fiscal 2020.
Much of the local streets department’s work has been limited to patchwork and paving versus complete reconstruction, Joyce said. The expected highway user revenue should help with that, she said.
The cost of reconstructing an average residential street is about $40,000 to $50,000, Joyce said.
“I would say our roads are in fair shape. We have a great streets department, but they’ve stretched it a long way with the paving and patching,” Joyce said. “They’re just starting to see some wear and tear, so this will be a great help.”
Jim Humerick, Thurmont’s chief administrative officer, said via email that major projects that could use highway user revenue funds are Carroll Street, Woodside Avenue and Frederick Road.
“These are major streets in town that handle a lot of truck traffic, so they will need to be completely redone, including engineering and design to withstand the heavy loads,” Humerick said. “We also have some smaller residential streets that are due for routine milling and asphalt overlay work.”
The highway user revenue funds for fiscal 2020 will be finalized when the General Assembly votes on the governor’s proposed budget this spring.
Staff writer Mallory Panuska contributed to this report.