Statement by Douglas E. Hill
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
On Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Report
Counties support transportation recommendations
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) today expresses its support for the recommendations released Monday by the Governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC).
County government has called for a comprehensive set of solutions to the critical issue of transportation infrastructure, mass transit and intermodal transportation needs for many years, including the issue’s selection as a legislative priority in 2011. The report released by the TFAC recognizes this interdependence in its multi-year plan to provide much-needed funding for repairing and rebuilding the transportation systems needed to get children to school, citizens to work and goods to market.
Counties are responsible for the maintenance of some 4,000 county bridges more than 20 feet in length, funded with a gas tax allocation that, until Act 44, has remained largely unchanged since 1930. In addition, PennDOT estimates that there are 22,500 county and local bridges that are between eight and 20 feet in length, and catalogues another 29,000 under eight feet. With an historical lack of federal and state infrastructure funding, many of these bridges are structurally deficient and many others are approaching the end of their useful life, meaning that counties are rapidly facing the prospect of a vastly increasing number of projects.
Moreover, these expenditure trends reflect a continuing pattern of deferred maintenance, largely due to competing pressures on scarce property tax dollars on which counties rely for local revenue. While the increases in Act 44 were appreciated - $5 million dollars in new funding for county bridges, and $30 million to municipalities for local road maintenance – they continue to fall far short of identified need. CCAP has continued to join with municipalities in seeking funding that better addresses local requirements, and appreciates the attention the Commission offered to local needs, a vital piece of the transportation system often overlooked in previous reports and recommendations.
Mass transit funding issues are also significant to counties, as there are more than 30 mass transit systems covering more than two thirds of the counties in Pennsylvania, each with differing coverage and administrative structures. Additionally, counties face fixed route and demand response transit responsibilities, and the TFAC report acknowledges, “Human services transportation in Pennsylvania is financially challenged as currently organized – but we cannot allow it to fail.” Counties have a significant interest in resolving the problems in mass transit as well as local bridge needs.
In addition to the increases in funding proposed by the TFAC, the Association supports consideration of funding alternatives for local governments included in the TFAC recommendations, and looks forward to working with the General Assembly to advance this critical issue when members return in September.
The Association thanks the Commission for its diligent consideration of local issues, and thanks TFAC members Joe DeMott, McKean county commissioner, and Tim Reddinger, Clarion county commissioner, for their work and for representing county transportation needs across the commonwealth.
CCAP is the voice of county government, a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan Association representing all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. CCAP membership includes the county commissioners, council members, county executives, administrators, chief clerks and solicitors.
CCAP strengthens the counties’ abilities to govern their own affairs and to improve the well-being and quality of life for every Pennsylvania resident. CCAP is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2011.