Legislation Could Give Some Local Control Over Roads

Jan 14, 2014

The state portion of road funding comes from three sources- the gasoline tax, registration fees and a tax on newly purchased vehicles.

State Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox updates the Senate Committee on Transportation on the state of the department.
Credit Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting (File Photo)

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Paul Mattox predicts those revenue sources will remain consistent over the next five years, but findings from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways say to maintain and expand the current system, the state would need an additional $1.3 billion each year.

So, members of the Senate Committee on Transportation are looking for ways to meet that projected need.

During their meeting at the Capitol Tuesday, Senator Bill Cole suggested pushing some of the funding responsibility down to the county and city level, which Mattox said dozens of other states already do.

“I think it’s a great idea if you give the local government some means to raise revenue or at least to bring additional revenue to the table so that we could work with them in getting some of the problems that they feel are critical for their area to grow,” he said.

Committee Chair Senator Bob Beach said legislation to give that local control is being talked about and may be introduced during this session.

A home rule bill of sorts, he said the legislation would allow counties to develop a road program and have it approved by the Department of Transportation.

Then it goes back home for public hearings,” he added, “and ultimately the county commission will be able sign off on those new bridges or roads in their communities.”

Beach said the legislation could also be expanded, allowing counties and municipalities to help fund water, sewer, and even broadband Internet expansion projects.