Municipalities across the state received a roughly 2.4 percent increase in state liquid fuel money, effective March 1.
The state has committed $500.7 million to iquid fuel funding, which is one of the backbones of municipal infrastructure.
In Huntingdon County, the increase in funding brought just over $1 million over last year. Huntingdon County received $2,797,696 in liquid fuel funding in 2018 and $2.864,705 this year.
Liquid fuel funding is based upon the population of a municipality and miles of roadway within its confines. The 2019 liquid fuel fund allocation report states Huntingdon County has just over 571 miles of locally-owned roadways and 45,913 residents. The county also contains 598 miles of state-owned roads.
The annual distributions help to assist with highway and bridge-related expenses, such as snow removal and road repaving within the municipalities. With the 120,039 miles of public roadway, 72,992 are owned by municipalities and are eligible for the funding.
“Continued investment in state and locally owned roadways and bridges alike is critical, so this funding is very important to municipalities,” said Erin Waters-Trasatt, PennDOT press secretary.
Waters-Trasatt stated that the Liquid Fuels Tax Municipal Allocation Law was enacted in June 1956, and is funded through a portion of the taxes collected on gasoline.
The major benefactors of the funding are the municipalities that receive it. Cromwell Township makes up the largest percentage of roads at just over 39 miles. According to township secretary Dave Brenneman, the township would not be able to function without the funding to manage and maintain the roads.
“There is no doubt we would not make it without that money. We would have to collect taxes and make them quite high just to recover that money,” said Brenneman.
Waters-Trasatt related that the funding can be used for a multitude of qualifying projects.
“Projects include paving, widening, relocation, bridge work, new installation of traffic signals and lighting, and the new installation or replacement with better/larger pipe and guide rail. Other eligible expenditures that are not considered projects would be snow removal, traffic lighting costs and general road maintenance,” she said.
Brenneman believes the funding is important due to the nature of different projects and items it funds.
“Everything is for the roads, and it includes vehicle maintenance, fuel and oil. Everything comes out of there, and that’s why it’s important, especially for us, because we don’t have real estate taxes, so we make every nickel count,” said Brenneman.
Cromwell Twp. has used recent funding to repair roads that have been washed out as well as the replacement of roadway tile pipes for drainage of streams and small rivers under the roadway. Brenneman stated that due to the rain in 2018 the township had two tile pipes wash away with a segment of the roadway.
“We have been using it mostly for tiles. When you build a road, you build it from the bottom up. The rain has not been our friend because water destroys roads, and we lost two roads last year,” said Brenneman.
Penn Township has almost 22 miles of roadway, and also feel the benefits of the funding.
“We normally do roadwork with ours, the paving and maintenance of the roads. We don’t get into a lot of other things like buying equipment, only because you have to watch pricing with the COSTARS. We usually take the money and use it on big roads bids,” said Regina Hileman, secretary.
Hileman said that without the funding, the township would not be able to keep the roads in good condition.
“I think we would be able to maintain our roads, but we wouldn’t be able to keep them in the shape that they’re in, and we try to keep them in good shape for the residents. The money only goes so far and we’re using our general fund for buying equipment and everything else in the township, so I’m not sure we’d have the funds that we’d need to keep them in shape,” said Hileman.
Hileman said the increase in funds will help the township with an upcoming road project, which is one of the bigger projects in a few years.
“In the last couple of years we haven’t done road projects because they wanted to keep a large amount of money in the liquid fuels account to do a big road,” said Hileman.