York County municipalities receive less from state than last year for roadwork

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Crews replace water pipe on W. Philadelphia Street at N. Beaver Street, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York County received about $400,000 less in liquid fuels payments from the state this year, a downward trend that affected the entire commonwealth.

Officials with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which administers the annual distribution, said that a decline in fuel purchases was responsible for the reduction in local funding. 

Local governments use the cash to fund highway and bridge projects. 

"It's distributed by a formula, it's not a discretionary payment on the part of us," said Alexis Campbell, a spokeswoman for PennDOT. "It's a procedural thing — it does fluctuate."

York County received $16.9 million this year, about $400,000 less than 2019's allocation of $17.3 million.

Distributions are awarded based on criteria including how many roads are adopted as public streets by municipalities, meeting certain dimension requirements, total populations and being able to safely accommodate vehicles driving at least 15 mph.

The allocation is also based on how much gas is sold. Liquid fuels tax revenues received in 2018-2019 were about $3.8 billion, Campbell said. 

Lauren Rauth of York City gets gas at the Sheetz at 1484 Carlisle Rd. In West Manchester Township Tuesday, March 3, 2020. One of the biggest factors that determines the amount of liquid fuels fund allocations is gas sales, which were down statewide this past year. Bill Kalina photo

Statewide, more than $487.5 million was awarded this year to the state's 67 counties, down from $500.7 million in 2019. 

Nationwide, fuel tax collections have slumped in recent years, especially as vehicles have grown more efficient. States have struggled to come up with ways to make up the difference. 

Of York County's municipalities, York City was awarded the most funds at $1.1 million, though that was still a $31,000 decrease from 2019. 

Campbell said municipalities were made aware of the estimates of liquid fuels allocations in September, providing enough time for local authorities to plan their budgets.

"We do communicate with the municipalities about what we estimate their allocation will be," she said. "So they are aware of what they would receive."

 More:Roadwork: West York got nearly $1M from state over 10 years, spent $90K

Ben Marchant, Springettsbury Township's manager, said the township ended up receiving a larger amount than the amount of the estimate given to officials  in September.

Springettsbury Township received about $852,000, $24,000 less than last year's allocation.

"The impact to the budget was slightly positive because the allocation we actually received is slightly higher than the estimate PennDOT provided," Marchant stated in an email. "Compared to last year, it is less than the amount the Township received in 2019, but that could be due to fluctuations in the price and consumption of gas and gas taxes."

Other York County municipalities that experienced a decrease in liquid fuels include York Township, receiving $25,000 less than last year, and Dover Township, which was awarded $22,000 less.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.