Centre County infrastructure targeted with ‘fee for local use’

BELLEFONTE — When a $5 “fee for local use” was tacked on to vehicle registrations in Centre County in 2017, many questioned where those funds would go.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, Mike Bloom, assistant director of planning and community development, gave an annual report about the fee — and exactly where those funds are going.

According to Bloom, the fee for local use has aided a large number of infrastructure improvement projects in Centre County, which received much-needed funding.

Bloom said that the annual “set aside” portion of the $5 fee has helped supplement the county’s Liquid Fuels program. On average, the program faced an average funding gap of $735,006.

“That was one part of the puzzle,” Bloom said of trying to aid the funding gap.

Bloom also talked about the fee helping to fund bridge improvement projects in the county. From 2017 through 2022, the fee will help repair and replace bridges. According to Bloom, there are 13 bridges in poor condition and 18 in borderline condition.

“Ultimately, the goal is to try and lessen the municipal financial burden,” Bloom explained.

By allocating funds to bridge projects, the county also leverages up to $2 million in funding from the state through PennDOT’s Road Maintenance and Preservation (RoadMAP) program.

“That will be federal money that will ultimately go into more bridge work,” Bloom said.

Bloom said that the county has made four deposits from the fee for local use. The fund’s current balance is $785,561.93. Of those funds, $550,454 has been allocated. A total of $235,107.93 has not been allocated.

Commissioner Michael Pipe said that he was pleased with the report.

“It was very thorough, very clearly done, explaining where the money is going and how much we have left,” Pipe said.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that the board has been very transparent about where the fee for local use funds are going.

“I want to remind everyone that 100 percent of the fee for local use funding goes to road projects. There’s no overhead, there’s no administration, no one is raking anything off,” Higgins said.

Higgins pointed out that the fee for local use funding has leveraged $2 million in state funding.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners pushed a pair of resolutions involving bridge work to the Tuesday, Aug. 13 consent agenda.

With Resolution 9 of 2019, the commissoners agreed to enter into a Multimodal Grant Reimbursement Agreement in the amount of $1.365 million with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as part of the $1.95 million project titled the 2018 Centre County Local Bridge Bundle. Funding will be utilized to rehabilitate three local bridges: T-942 Lower Coleville Road Bridge, Spring Township; T-489 Front Street Bridge, Curtin Township; T-526 Fox Gap Road Bridge, Miles Township.

With Resolution 10 of 2019, the commissioners agreed to enter into a Multimodal Grant Reimbursement Agreement in the amount of $2.07 million with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as part of the $3.03 million project titled the 2019 Centre County Local Bridge Bundle. Funding will be utilized to replace the following two bridges: Railroad Street Bridge, Bellefonte Borough and Mill Street Bridge, Howard Township.

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