Boosted highway funding plan could help rural counties
A boost in Highway User Revenue Fund might smooth more than a few rough roads between Phoenix and Arizona’s rural counties this year.
Arizona Rep. David Cook, R-Mesa, introduced a bill that would allocate $18 million in HURF revenues to rural counties. The bill, introduced as HB 2047, would distribute $10 million among counties with a population of less than 250,000; with $250,000 allocated to each additional county. The remainder would be distributed to individual counties based on population. Cities and towns with less than 7,500 residents would receive $100,000 each for their respective road infrastructure. According to Cook, it’s a way of paying back rural Arizonans.
Over the past decade, Arizona counties have received a diminishing amount of funding for their transportation infrastructure. Balancing the budget has required sacrifices, according to Mohave County records provided by Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson. From 2008 to 2017, about $143 million have been shifted from HURF statewide, with about $7.3 million in highway infrastructure funding allocated away from Mohave County.
“This bill is about paying back small cities, towns and our 12 rural counties,” Cook said. “We looked at the information of what was swept from towns, and this is a way of giving it back. Maricopa County has taxes other than (HURF) to help with its transportation infrastructure. Other, smaller towns have a decaying infrastructure. This won’t make up for everything that was swept away from smaller counties, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
According to Johnson, Mohave County has fared better than other counties after having highway infrastructure funding reduced by the state, but only because county officials saved what funding they didn’t need.
“We’re back up to receiving the money we’re allotted, but we haven’t received what was swept from us,” Johnson said. “They need to pay back what they swept away … it means millions of dollars to Mohave County.”
Cook’s bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Phoenix, Rep. David Stringer, R-Phoenix, State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, and Sen. David Gowan ,R-Sierra Vista.