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Municipal officials urge more road funding

John Wagner

The Maryland Municipal League has passed a resolution urging the governor and General Assembly to restore state aid for roads and police in next year's budget.

Since 2008, so-called "highway user revenues" have been cut by 90 percent and police aid has decreased 35 percent as the state has grappled with budget shortfalls, according to the organization, which represents 157 municipal governments.

The issue of local road aid has become a flash point in the Maryland governor's race.

At a conference of county leaders last month, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) promised to restore at least 25 percent of the funding that had been cut under Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). In a speech the next day, O'Malley said he would restore aid when the economy rebounds but warned county officials about candidates who make promises in election years that they can't keep.

The Maryland Municipal League, a nonpartisan group, made no mention of the governor's race in a statement but stated its budget priorities quite clearly.

"We know that cuts must be made during difficult economic times, but a 90 percent cut in highway user revenues and a 35 percent cut in Police Aid is more than we can absorb," said Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz, chairman of an organization work group on revenues.

Localities use highway user revenue for road repairs, resurfacing, snow removal and other projects.

In fiscal 2008, municipalities received almost $45 million in road aid. In April 2009, that was reduced to $6.1 million by the legislature, then further cut by the Board of Public Works in August 2009. According to the organization, in the current fiscal year, municipalities will share an estimated $1.6 million.

By John Wagner  |  September 9, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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