The transportation plan signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in November will mean an increase to nearly all municipalities in the state for liquid fuels payments this year. The new payment totals that will be made in March were released by the state and each municipality in Lackawanna County will share in the annual increase of $393,248. The new total for the county will be $5,315,135
Statewide, the allocation is $25.1 million more than the 2013 figure, or nearly an eight percent increase. Under Act 89, the new transportation plan Corbett signed into law last year, liquid fuels reimbursements will increase by roughly $220 million over the next five years.
“This investment helps our towns meet the tough challenge of maintaining municipality-owned roads and bridges.” Corbett said in an emailed statement. “Because of the new transportation plan that I signed into law, Pennsylvania will be able to increase these resources in coming years which could provide some relief to local taxpayers from these costs.”
Liquid fuels allocations are annual payments from the state to municipalities to help pay for highway and bridge-related expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. There are 119,847 miles public roads in Pennsylvania, with 77,889 of those miles owned by municipalities and eligible for liquid fuels. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally-owned roads.
So larger municipalities such as Scranton receive the most — $1.66 million this year — while smaller, more rural ones like West Abington Township receive only a minimal amount — $16,532 this year.
To be counted as eligible for liquid fuels, a roadway must be formally adopted as a public street by the municipality, meet certain dimension requirements and be able to safely accommodate vehicles driving at least 15 mph.
Newton Township Supervisor Douglas Pallman said the township is grateful for the approximately 7 percent increase in its liquid fuels fund this year.
“Newton Township,” he said, “being a rural community and an agricultural community, one of the most important aspects of the township is the roads and taking care of them.”
Pallman said the municipality held back on road repairs in 2013, saving about $98,000 in liquid fuels funds to add to the $105,486 expected allocation for this year. With that, added to the $150,000 budgeted for 2014 from the township’s general fund, he said the supervisors plan to place a major focus on the roads this year, specifically paving and ditch repair.
“The liquid fuels fund,” he said, “is a very important part of our process for taking care of our roads.”
Clarks Green Council President David Rinaldi said the funds are always used “to keep the roads in good repair” and the borough can use all it gets.
“To my knowledge,” he said, “there is never an excess. We use as much as we can. As gas goes up, the cost of maintaining the roads goes up.”
According to Clarks Summit borough manager Virginia Kehoe, the increase in funds is much needed and will be put to good use.
“It’s wonderful,” she said, “because what we get now isn’t enough to keep up with the repairs that need to be done. Every penny counts and this increase will help keep us on target with road maintenance.”
South Abington Twp. manager David O’Neill said the incrasse in liquid fuel funds will be approximetely 68 percent over the next five years.
“It will certaintly help us get out and do more work on our roads,” he said.
O’Neill added that reimbursements “typically held level for many years” and he reached out to local elected officals in the past to get the amount increased.
The following is a list of municipalities in the Abingtons, how much their increase will be this year and what the total allocation is pegged at:
Benton: Increased $7,237 to $101,195
Clarks Green: Increased $2,532 to $35,179
Clarks Summit: Increased $9,207 to $127,986
Dalton: Increased $2,610 to $36,339
Glenburn: Increased $2,771 to $38,599
La Plume: Increased $1,124 to $17,036
Newton: Increased $7,561 to $105,486
North Abington: Increased $2,573 to $35,970
Ransom: Increased $3,829 to $53,429
South Abington: Increased $15,652 to $217,486
Waverly: Increased $3,315 to $46,105