Beltrami joins Association of MN Counties in supporting transportation funding
BEMIDJI--With billions of dollars needed over the next several years to maintain quality roads, the Association of Minnesota Counties has called for the state government to give transportation funding a boost this session.
BEMIDJI-With billions of dollars needed over the next several years to maintain quality roads, the Association of Minnesota Counties has called for the state government to give transportation funding a boost this session.
On Tuesday, in a 3-2 vote, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioner's endorsed the AMC's push for increasing dollars dedicated. The vote followed discussion at the board's meeting, where a presentation was given detailing the AMC's reasoning.
County Engineer Bruce Hasbargen, who gave the presentation, said the state's county road system, which includes 14,141 miles, is funded with local revenues, and has been falling behind recently. According to Hasbargen, Beltrami, as well as other counties and cities, don't have adequate funding for transportation and as a result projects are being delayed.
The AMC report also details the County State Aid Highway program, covering 30,742 miles of road, is also in need of state funding. The CSAH program draws funding from the Highway Tax Distribution Fund, made up of the gas tax, license fees, motor vehicle sales tax and interest.
Over the next 25 years, the AMC estimates a need of $18.5 billion for the CSAH program and roughly $8.5 billion for the county road system. On an annual basis, the estimates would require $1.08 billion over the next 25 years.
The recommended resolution submitted by the AMC to the board Tuesday states "increasing funding... would provide additional stable funds for MnDOT, all 87 counties, all cities with a population of 5,000, or more, and townships across the state."
While some commissioners were open to advocating for increased transportation funding, though, the resolution's lack of a specific policy proposal resulted in some pulling their support.
"I don't want the state to do whatever they want to increase transportation funding," District 5 Commissioner Jim Lucachick said. "I'm not against increasing transportation funding, but I'm not going to say 'do whatever you want.' I would need something more specific. I won't approve a blanket policy like that."
In his remarks, District 2 Commissioner Reed Olson said the need of adequate transportation funding was enough for him to back the proposal.
"I think we desperately in this state need increased funding and spending on transportation," Olson said. "I think the AMC is having a difficult time finding a consensus on what route to go. But, I will be in favor of this platform in supporting AMC in their efforts."
District 4 Commissioner Tim Sumner also supported the resolution and made a motion to adopt it, with an amendment requesting the county receive a more specific policy proposal from the AMC.
Voting in favor of the resolution was Richard Anderson, Olson and Sumner, while Lucachick and Craig Gaasvig were against.