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State's Mayors Discuss Local Funding of Roads

Posted January 10, 2008 6:41 p.m. EST
Updated January 10, 2008 10:00 p.m. EST

— Funding road construction was among the topics that the state's mayors discussed Thursday, the second day of a two-day conference of the North Carolina Metropolitan Coalition.

Because of a projected $65 billion shortfall over the next 25 years within the state Department of Transportation, the cost to maintain state roads could soon fall to local leaders, leaving them to raise the funds to make repairs and improvements on roads in their municipalities.

"The problem is: Where does the money come from?" Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy said.

Without help from the state, one way to raise funding on a local level is through higher property taxes.

"If it's pushed down to the cities in the current (funding) state, then it's the property tax that's impacted," Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said.

Foy and other mayors at the conference say that's unfair.

"There's got to be a way to fund it, and the way you fund it is not to say to the cities, 'You figure it out,'" Foy said.

Some cities, such as Raleigh, have already seen a rise in property taxes. Mayor Charles Meeker said property taxes in the Capital City went up several years ago to maintain state roads.

"If we have to tack on the cost of roads, they're going to get significantly higher," Foy said.

The state has struggled to meet the demands for road funding because of limited funds, rising construction costs and unprecedented growth.

Last month, county commissioners met in Raleigh to discuss funding roads on a county level.

They talked about potentially having to increase property taxes, too.