$100 Million for Local Streets and Roads as State Repays HUTA Loan
Counties’ and cities’ monthly allocations from the Highway Users Tax Account (HUTA) were supplemented this week though the early repayment of a $100 million state loan. HUTA is funded through the state gas excise tax, which is currently set at 36 cents per gallon. These dollars are an essential part of county transportation budgets and are used for road maintenance and rehabilitation projects, as well as local matching funds to draw down additional transportation funding.
CSAC supported the early repayment of $351 million in transportation fund borrowing throughout the development of 2014-15 budget. The loan dated from fiscal year 2010-11 and was most recently set to be repaid in 2020-21. All told, counties received just over half of the $100 million repayment to local governments, while $137 million was allocated to state highway pavement maintenance and rehabilitation, $100 million to traffic management projects, $9 million to bicycle and pedestrian projects and $5 million to environmental mitigation related to transportation projects. You’ll recall that cities and counties also split a $142 million repayment in June due to a prior error in gas tax apportionments.
The Governor deserves significant credit for proposing the early repayment of this loan, as the exponential pattern of pavement deterioration means that $100 million spent on local preservation projects today is more valuable than $100 million spent in the future. Nevertheless, counties continue to struggle to maintain local roads as inflation and an increasingly fuel-efficient vehicle fleet reduce real gas tax revenues.
The 2014 edition of the Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment, which is produced by CSAC and its local government transportation partners, recently identified a $78.3 billion shortfall to repair and maintain our local roads—a figure that has grown by nearly $7 billion in only six years.
Moving forward, CSAC has prioritized securing additional revenue for transportation infrastructure, advocating for changes that help counties make current funding stretch further, and representing county interests in conversations about the future of transportation funding, including the investigation of a mileage-based fee that could eventually replace the gas excise tax.
Implementation Guidance Issued for Massage Legislation
This week, the League of California Cities, with the support of CSAC, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association, released guidance on the implementation on AB 1147 (Bonilla, 2014), which was signed by the Governor this fall. CSAC supported the bill because it restores local land use authority to regulate massage businesses and provides that cities and counties can adopt and enforce local ordinances governing zoning, business licensing, or reasonable health and safety requirements for massage establishments.
CSAC appreciates the hard work that the League and its partners, including the County of Sacramento and the City and County of San Francisco, put into the guidance document and the bill itself. The implementation guidance is available online here.
New Partners for Smart Growth Conference Registration Open
The 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference will be held in Baltimore from January 29 to 31, 2015. Over the last 20 years, Baltimore has used a wealth of smart-growth and sustainability tools and policies to transform itself from primarily a major port and manufacturing center, into a multi-industry economy that promotes a built environment that is vibrant, walkable and livable.
The theme for New Partners 2015 is “Practical Tools and Innovative Strategies for Creating Great Communities,” underscoring this year’s stronger emphasis on implementation. The program will feature tools, strategies, focused trainings, experiential learning opportunities and new technologies that will help communities now.
This dynamic conference offers the opportunity to form effective new partnerships that can provide the political will and technical expertise to overcome inertia and change “business as usual.” It also gives you access to cutting-edge tools and strategies, available resources, and successful models so that you can respond quickly to evolving community needs.
Don’t miss the opportunity to join other leaders from across the U.S. and learn from – and be inspired by – practical and innovative local-level responses to pressing issues communities everywhere are facing. CSAC encourages interested county officials to attend the conference and hope it will give you more energy, partners, tools and strategies to go home and create safer, healthier, more equitable and economically viable communities.
The conference website is here. Note that early bird registration rates have been extended until December 15.