The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

October 11, 2013

County due piece of state gas tax money

TARBORO — Do you ever wonder what happens to the North Carolina taxes paid on gasoline?

In addition with other highway fees, gas taxes (37.5 cents) are used for Powell Bill funds to municipalities for the construction of transportation-related projects.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will distribute more than $145.6 million in Powell funds, to 507 municipalities across the state. The initial allocation of $72.8 million, an increase of about $2.8 million over last year, was sent out on Sept. 30. The remainder will be paid by Jan. 1.

Powell Bill funds provide cities and towns with money to help pay for repairs,  including widening and adding sidewalks on their streets.

Edgecombe County municipalities, not including towns located in two counties, will receive $464,650. Tarboro will receive the highest amount at $329,727 while Princeville falls in second with $60,168. Speed will receive the lowest amount at $3,294.

The amount each municipality receives is based on a formula set by the N.C. General Assembly. The formula requires 75 percent of the funds to be awarded based on population, while the remaining 25 percent is based on the number of street miles  each municipality maintains.

Tarboro maintain 60 miles of streets. Town Manager Alan Thornton said Tarboro determines which streets are to be resurfaced by utilizing a very detailed and specific engineering assessment that assist to prioritize repair and resurfacing needs.

Pinetops most recent used the funds for resurfacing.

"We just completed a $170,000 resurfacing project in June," said Pinetops Administrator Greg Bethea. "We plan to do some more in about two years."

Pinetops will allow its Powell Bill funds to accumulate for the use of make major repairs, Bethea explained. The funds are "very important," he said. "We could not repair the streets without them."

One of Princeville's uses was the paving of Forest Haven Trailer Park. The trailer park was used to relocate victims of Hurricane Floyd after the FEMA housing areas closed. Commissioner Ann Howell was one of the lawmakers who was adamant about getting the roads paved.

"Because of its population, we believed that it was very important to pave the roads in Forest Haven," Howell said. "Not only roads in Forest Haven, but it is important for all roads in Princeville to receive the necessary repairs or be paved."

Howell, who has served as commissioner for more than 20 years, said she hopes to be in office when funds come available to pave and place sidewalks on a stretch of road on Walston Street that leads to Princeville Elementary School.  

Each municipality establishes its eligibility annually by submitting to the NCDOT a certified statement and a certified Powell Bill map.

Rounding out Edgecombe County municipalities that received funds are Macclesfield $14,972, and Pinetops $46,672.

Charlotte will receive the highest amount in the state at $19.8 million. That was based on its estimated population of 765,464 and its 2,442 miles of city-maintained streets. Raleigh is next at $10.3 million, followed by Greensboro ($7.4 million), Winston-Salem ($6.5 million) and Durham ($6 million). There are 23 cities or towns receiving at least $1 million to assist with their transportation projects.

The fund is named for Junius K. Powell, a former state senator and mayor of Whiteville, whose name led a list of legislators sponsoring a 1951 bill to help the state's  cities with urban road problems. The first allocation of Powell Bill funds was in 1951 for $4.5 million and was distributed to 386 cities and towns.


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