Many cities are making a conscious effort to increase spending from local government. In the years following the financial crisis of 2007, New York’s budget became one of the most expansive in the country. It has spent more than $700 million on a robust infrastructure investment, including roads, bridges, transit, water systems, utilities, and public parks. The Bloomberg administration has also provided millions of dollars in grants of more than $1 billion in order to create jobs and spur economic growth. With this kind of growth, cities can take on a greater share of the costs for roads, bridges, and public transit. But without a larger grant, it’s unlikely that the infrastructure will be maintained and updated.
But while this is one area of policy where block grants might work, they are not necessarily the best tool for the job. A 2012 report released by the Urban Institute and National Association of City Transportation Officials found that in urban areas with larger population the most effective way to increase highway capacity is through road funding, which generally does not require city-level investment.
Other studies have found that block grants would be better off in the long run as more infrastructure becomes available by giving money directly to cities, or encouraging them to fund it through a program known as user fees, in which the revenue is collected in the form of tolls or fees. As we have already seen, there is still a lot of room for better infrastructure in many cities, and even more if the federal government begins providing more direct cash transfers to local governments.
What is the role of revenue sharing for the city’s transportation needs?
While most experts think that local communities should fund road construction with their revenues, they also recognize that a significant share of these revenues should come from road users. “It might seem counterintuitive to ask people for toll money, but the road users in those communities are the people who pay to use the roads,” says Jim Reardon, a policy analyst at the Urban Institute. “When someone drives a car into our neighborhoods, it’s also a tax.”
The key question, however, is who the tolls are going to work with. “If you’re paying your local business for a toll booth but they’re also an electric utility or a construction company, they don’t really get a lot of revenue,” says Reardon.
So it’s not so much whether to require users to pay, as to identify users who may not be comfortable paying and then build the infrastructure to help them. And many jurisdictions already have
minority small business grants, how to find free money, 7000 government grant, help i need money today, grants to help with debt