Regional Transportation Funding - A Strategic Review

Study Overview

This report, conducted by ICF Consulting, provides an overview of transportation funding in the MPO region and lays out funding options that could be considered by the Nashville Area MPO. This includes an evaluation of local taxing options to support an increase in funding for regional transportation. The report contains three main sections:

1. Transportation Needs: The stakeholders identify a number of transportation problems in the region including: congestion, TDOT’s perceived low level of responsiveness to local needs, the low level of support for transit investments, the lack of funding and difficulties in raising new funding, and the need for better regional cooperation and comprehensive plans. This section also recounts the unsuccessful attempt to introduce an income tax at the state level in 2001 and discusses the outcomes of local ballot measures to raise taxes.

2. Existing Transportation Funding and Expenditures: This section compiles and analyzes information on current state and local transportation revenues and expenditures. The major source of state funding is the gasoline tax, which raises approximately $650 million annually statewide. The Nashville region received $34 million in state gasoline tax revenues in FY 99.

3. Recommended Funding Sources: Based on the results of the stakeholder interviews and preliminary estimate of revenue potential, this section of the report recommends five funding sources for potential implementation in the future: the wheel tax, sales taxes, vehicle emissions fees, the regional option gas tax, and development fees. Funding estimates from these five sources have been prepared for target amounts of $5, $10, and $20 million. 

Major Findings

This report constitutes a survey of transportation funding as it currently exists in the region and lays out funding options that could be considered by the Nashville Area MPO in the future. The report contains three main sections:

Transportation Needs
This section discusses the results of telephone interviews conducted with 18 stakeholders at 15 organizations. The stakeholders identify a number of transportation problems in the region including: congestion, TDOT’s perceived low level of responsiveness to local needs, the low level of support for transit investments, the lack of funding and difficulties in raising new funding, and the need for better regional cooperation and comprehensive plans. This section also recounts the unsuccessful attempt to introduce an income tax at the state level in 2001 and discusses the outcomes of local ballot measures to raise taxes.

Existing Transportation Funding and Expenditures
This section compiles and analyzes information on current state and local transportation revenues and expenditures. The major source of state funding is the gasoline tax, which raises approximately $650 million annually statewide. The Nashville region received $34 million in state gasoline tax revenues in FY 99. Counties and cities in the Nashville region spent $121 million on transportation in FY 02. Of this total amount, $35 million was through the state gasoline tax and other street aid programs, while an additional $25.6 million was raised from the wheel tax. The rest of the funding is made up through property and local sales taxes. None of the jurisdictions uses dedicated funding; even revenues derived from transportation sources, such as the wheel tax, are often used for the general fund. This analysis was undertaken with budget data supplied by 13 jurisdictions. The analysis is incomplete because data gaps existed for some of the jurisdictions. 

Recommended Funding Sources
Based on the results of the stakeholder interviews and preliminary estimate of revenue potential, this section of the report recommends five funding sources for potential implementation in the future: the wheel tax, sales taxes, vehicle emissions fees, the regional option gas tax, and development fees. Funding estimates from these five sources have been prepared for target amounts of $5, $10, and $20 million. 


Recommendations


This report does not recommend which of the funding sources should be pursued by the region. Although this was originally intended to form part of this report, the project steering committee determined that the political environment had shifted so that it was not productive to attempt two of the study’s key components—1) a public opinion survey about transportation priorities and potential funding and 2) a workshop with elected officials to develop a business plan. Although the survey was not conducted, the draft survey questionnaire could be used at a later date and is included in Appendix B.


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What

  • Regional Transportation Funding - A Strategic Review

Completion Date

  • 2002

Consultants

  • ICF Consulting

Study Partners

  • Nashville Area MPO
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