After five months of review, the Delaware Department of Transportation Task Force has returned a 75-page report on the future of the Transportation Trust Fund, concluding that total spending for transportation expenses over the period can reasonably be estimated to total $12.4 billion and that current TTF revenue streams will support only 70% of those needs.
The Task Force was composed of 24 members representing the Delaware General Assembly, various state agencies and other stakeholders from the public and private sectors.
The official press release from DelDOT:
Created under Legislative directive via the Fiscal Year 2011 Bond Bill, with members appointed in October 2010, the Transportation Trust Fund Task Force has concluded its five month review of examining and evaluating the funding sources required to sustain and support the Delaware Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). The TTF is the primary funding source for the Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to provide public transportation, construct and maintain roads and bridges, and to provide motor vehicle related services to Delaware residents.
Ted C. Williams, Task Force Chairman, stated, “The Task Force was very diligent in reviewing the problem and identified an all encompassing list of options that we believe could be implemented as a means of closing the gap between revenues and the capital programs that are essential to not only the citizens of Delaware but also the efforts to attract new business and jobs to Delaware”.
The Task Force was composed of 24 members representing the Delaware General Assembly, various state agencies and other stakeholders from the public and private sectors. With technical assistance from DelDOT, a comprehensive review was done of transportation demands, and the funds (both short and long term) available and required to meet those stated needs. The Task Force studied the entire transportation program for the period Fiscal Year 2012 – 2023. It was concluded that total spending for transportation expenses over the period can reasonably be estimated to total $12.4 billion and that current TTF revenue streams will support only 70% of those needs.
The result of that imbalance, if not corrected, will be either the elimination of all new capital projects by 2017 or severe reductions in DelDOT’s Core Program resulting in an accelerated deterioration of Delaware’s transportation infrastructure. In fiscal year 2012 alone the additional need is $169.1 million, which means that there are no funds available for 100% state-funded projects.
Paul Morrill, Task Force Member and Committee of 100, Executive Director explained, “Above all, we wanted the report to have credibility with legislators, the Governor, and the public; members insisted that the report paint an accurate picture of the challenges facing the Trust Fund. I was surprised to learn that we will have no money for 100% state funded projects as early as next year and that by 2017 we will have no money for any projects beyond the core program. This is not a long term problem, but an immediate one.”
Morrill further commented that, “The Task Force report makes it clear that doing nothing is not an option. If we continue to defer investment in our transportation infrastructure, conditions will deteriorate at an accelerated rate and will hurt our efforts to keep and attract jobs. We need to start now to fix the problem.”
The General Assembly recognized the need to address funding shortfalls that have occurred for a variety of reasons including unprecedented traffic growth, limited resources, substantial cost increases related to construction, and declining revenues. It also highlighted the need for predictable and sustainable funding to improve and maintain Delaware’s transportation system.
The Task Force is concerned about the potential negative impact such deterioration would have on the state’s economic competitiveness and ability to attract jobs. The total shortfall over this period is estimated by the Task Force to be $3.7 billion. In fiscal year 2012 alone the additional need is $169.1 million, which means that there are no funds available for 100% state-funded projects. Of this $169.1 million, using the current 50/50 pay-as-you-go policy, 50% will need to be raised through additional revenue sources and 50% can be raised through bond proceeds.
The Task Force developed a list of options to address the current TTF financial challenge. The options include (but are not limited to):
- Transferring DelDOT operating costs from the TTF back to the General Fund, over an extended period of time;
- Transit fees and greater general fund support for paratransit;
- Increasing one or more of the traditional trust fund revenues (tolls, gas taxes, DMV fees);
- Creating new fees payable by the general public and/or the users of the public infrastructure or Department services;
- Increasing the TTF borrowing, thereby requiring less new revenues;
- Decreasing the TTF borrowing, thereby requiring more new revenues;
- Using one or more techniques of innovative transportation financing (e.g. a lease concession on existing/to be built toll roads) with appropriate oversight of any proposed transaction by Executive and Legislative leaders