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Washington County, municipalities get less than $1 million in state road money

Small amount of highway user funding only a fraction of what county used to receive

April 13, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • A Washington County truck with a snow plow drives through Maugansville blade up after a snow storm. Washington County will get about $160,000 in state road funds, while its municipalities will share about $557,000, according to Debra S. Murray, the Washington County budget and finance director. Murray said county officials were leaning toward using the revenue to help replace Highway Department equipment such as snow-plow attachments.
Herald-Mail file photo

Out of a $13.2 million, one-time infusion of state road funds to Maryland jurisdictions, Washington County will get about $160,000, while its municipalities will share about $557,000, according to Debra S. Murray, the Washington County budget and finance director.

The funds come from the state's Highway User Revenue, a mix of fuel, titling and registration fees that, until recent years, funded most of the county's road maintenance budget.

In the past two years, the amount of Highway User Revenue passed on to counties and municipalities had all but dried up, and the county had not been expecting to receive any for fiscal 2012, Murray said.

County officials were leaning toward using the $160,908 in highway revenue to help replace Highway Department equipment such as snow-plow attachments, Murray said.

"They have not been able to replace some of their older equipment for well over four years now," she said.

The Highway Department has a list of about $2.7 million in equipment replacement needs, Murray said.

The small amount of highway user funding was only a fraction of what Washington County used to receive. The county government's share was about $7.6 million in fiscal 2009.

"Right now, the general fund is supporting the entire operation of road maintenance," Murray said.

At the municipal level, however, the payment was more significant.

Michelle Burker, acting director of finance for Hagerstown, said the city had been told its share of the additional funds would be about $400,000.

In better years, the city had received as much as $1.2 million in Highway User Revenue, Burker said.

Burker said the city would be using the funds for its pavement preservation program, which the city would otherwise have had to borrow to fund.

"It was definitely welcome news," Burker said of the funding.

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