Officials: 2017 road money boost smaller than claimed

LANSING, MICH. - Some local government leaders are pushing back at claims that they will receive significantly more road money in 2017 because of the road funding deal that calls for higher fuel taxes and registration fees effective Jan. 1.

John LaMacchia, assistant director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, says it's true that Michigan Transportation Fund money going to cities and villages will increase by 25% from 2016 to 2017, as reported by the Free Press on Sept. 6, and money from that fund going to counties will increase by 26%.

But when reductions in state general fund money going to roads are considered, the $459.5 million in total road revenue that cities and villages will receive from the state in the 2017 fiscal year represents only an 8.2% increase over the $424.5 million in total road revenue (Michigan Transportation Fund, plus general fund) that cities and villages received in 2016, he said.

The net increase for counties is slightly bigger, 8.4%, he said.

Jeff Cranson, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said both sets of numbers are accurate. But the 2017 increase for local governments is still significant because local road dollars go further than road dollars at the state level because of what he said are less stringent design standards on local roads.

Spending on state freeways and other trunk lines will be flat in the 2017 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, despite the road funding deal, again because of a loss of $391.5 million in general fund money that the Legislature appropriated for roads in 2016, but not in 2017.

MDOT will have just under $1.1 billion to spend on state trunk lines in the 2017 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, Cranson said. That's about $4 million less than it had to spend in 2016.

The plan, narrowly approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder last November, doesn't devote a full $1.2 billion to transportation until 2021, although many motorists and interest groups say major road fixes are overdue and needed immediately.

Under the plan, the annual cost of a $100 vehicle registration will go up by $20, and the cost of a 15-gallon fill-up will increase about $1.10 with a 7.3 cent-per-gallon increase in the fuel tax, now 19 cents per gallon. The package also increases the tax on diesel fuel — now 15 cents a gallon — to match the price of regular fuel, bringing both taxes to 26.3 cents per gallon on Jan. 1. After that, the fuel tax will increase annually by 5% or by the inflation rate, whichever is less.

Detroit Free Press


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