Earlier this month, NCDOT released its planned allocations to municipalities for surface transportation improvements under the Powell Bill Program. Total allocations to 507 eligible municipalities in FY 2014 will total slightly more than $145.6 million, an increase of 2% compared to last year.
While it marks the fourth consecutive year for increases in the total Statewide allocation, the level remains nearly 8% below the pre-recession high set in FY 2008 ($157.7 million). Reduced fuel sales and vehicles purchases, which comprise the revenue sources for the allocation, limit its growth to annual rate of 2-3% over the past several years.
The rate of revenue growth has not kept up with long-term growth in local populations and mileage of municipal-maintained roads. Both variables, which are used to determine Powell Bill distribution based on a 75% per capita, 25% per mile calculation, grew at significantly-faster rates than available revenue over the past several years, driven in large part by the pre-recession housing boom and expansion in select urban areas, like Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte.
The disparity in growth rates translates into lower per capital and per mile allocation rates, which can harm those municipalities that have not seen growth or whose growth hasn’t kept with the statewide average pace. The per capital allocation remains 13.5% below the level set in FY 2008, while the per mile rate is down nearly 18%.
As a result, many municipalities are not seeing any improvement in their annual allocations, which remain significantly-below pre-recession numbers and are inadequate to address local surface transportation maintenance and improvement needs.