Del. Towns Voice Concern Over Proposed Cuts - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Towns Voice Concern Over Proposed Cuts

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MILFORD, Del.- Mayors from various towns in Delaware have raised some concerns over the last week about a proposed cut in the "Community Transportation Fund." These town leaders told WBOC that cuts would make funding local projects more problematic.

For the fourth year in a row, Gov. Jack Markell proposed cutting the fund in half in order to deal with rising transportation costs. Currently, legislators receive $250,000 in a discretionary fund for local projects.

At Milford's biweekly council meeting, the city council is expected to debate whether or not to send a letter to their five state legislators, raising concern with the proposed cut. The draft of the letter can be seen above.

"Milford relies upon the predictable availability of the funding,"the letter reads.

The letter said that reductions would "hamper (their) ability to plan projects in a logical and efficient manner."

Milford is not alone in raising concerns. Georgetown Mayor Bill West and Millsboro Mayor Robert Bryan are the Co-Vice Presidents of the Sussex County Association of Towns. Both West and Bryan said they were against the proposed plan.

"The money means growth," West said. "If you don't have this money - and aren't able to repair streets. It sends a message to new people looking at your town. They're not going to come if you don't have streets that are half-way decent."

WBOC joined West at Pine Street, which saw major construction in the past year due to the fund. West said future projects like this one might not be possible if Markell's plan is accepted by the General Assembly.

"If there's projects that we have to do," said Bryan. "Need to do. Then we'd have to raise real estate taxes. And that's something we don't want to do. But if you want the services, they have to be paid for."

Meanwhile for the last four years, Markell has recommended the same plan, to move some of the money from the Community Transportation Fund to the Transportation Capital Budget. Press Secretary Kelly Bachman told WBOC that the proposed plan was to "address statewide needs while making sound investments for the future."

Markell's staff told WBOC that "additional funding to the CTF" would reduce money going to other projects, which are based on "evaluating factors such as road safety."

Since Fiscal Year 2012, Markell has suggested allocating $8,375,000 to CTF, allocating the rest to the general fund. Each year since FY 2013, the General Assembly has instead allocated double that or $16,750,000 for the CTF.

"The governor has stressed," said Bachman. "We must address the overall shortfall in transportation funding with additional revenue to meet the state's needs."

The Joint Finance Committee is currently combing through Markell's proposal. They are tasked with submitting an amended version, to be voted on by the entire General Assembly.

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