The Woodlands Edition | October 2020

FISCAL YEAR 2020 VS. FISCAL YEAR 2019

In the red Several monthly tax collections that feed into the Texas State Highway Fund fell from their 2019 levels through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

of 55.21%; and natural gas production taxes dipped by an average of 78.73%. In total, the State Highway Fund is projected to see its state and federal income drop 17.13% from $14.3 billion in 2020 to $11.87 billion in 2021. TxDOT said it is considering the long-range eects of the pandemic and projected revenue drops on its opera- tions along with other state ocials. “At this time, TxDOT is closelymon- itoring revenue information shared by our state comptroller, anticipating various budget scenarios of the 87th [2021] Texas Legislature, and working closely with the Texas Congressional delegation on possible federal funding impacts. With any revenue impact, TxDOT will fully assess future plans and adjust accordingly,” said Veronica Beyer, the department’s director of media relations, in an email. HGAC TransportationManager Allie Isbell said the agency is not expecting any immediate changes to its state or federal funding streams over the next several years given the group’s lon- ger-term program timelines. However, she said new projects with state fund- ing could be aected in the future. “We can expect to see those impacts in the next two to three years. How signicant they will be, I don’t think anyone quite has a handle on that yet, but there will be a dent because of the revenue forces that fund those proj- ects,” Isbell said. Progress amid pandemic Although some nancial eects of the pandemic on statewide transpor- tation initiatives may not be known until the Texas Legislature’s spring session or later, many road projects in Montgomery County and throughout the state remain on schedule or have developed along a faster timeline this spring and summer. Ocials said projects coordinated through TxDOT and the HGAC have

FY 2020 vs. FY 2019

MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST

20%

+0.22% 5.83% 16.92% 45.1%

0%

60% 80% 100% 120% 20% 40%

KEY:

Sales and use taxes Oil production taxes

Motor fuel taxes

Total change through the state’s scal year.

Natural gas production taxes

SOURCE: TEXAS COMPTROLLER OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

moved quickly and therefore often incurred lower costs due to lower traf- c volumes throughmuch of this year. “Keeping the projects moving saved time, got projects completed sooner, helped limit the disruption of construction and even saved tax- payers money by avoiding additional costs that project stoppage or delays could have created,” Beyer said. Around The Woodlands, two addi- tional bond projects—the $1.5 million widening of Lake Woodlands Drive west of I-45 and the $3.5 million reconguration of the Woodlands Parkway-Robinson Road interchange and Patsy Lane intersection—were substantially completed this summer following the Rayford project’s com- pletion in the spring. Still, Precinct 3 has listed more than $112 million worth of unfunded proj- ects in planning phases even as bond funding is used up. Those projects and others in the county could be tackled through precinct funding or a possible future county road bond—a package that may no longer be feasible in the short term. Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack could not be reached for comment before press time. “We ... had in the back of our mind that once we get these road projects done and we’ve proven to the folks that we did what we told them we were going to do, that we were possi- bly going to ask to go out for another

bond,” Riley said. “The situation now that we’re in with COVID[-19] and the shutdowns ... this is just not the time to even be thinking about going out for another road bond.” Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said in February that discus- sion of a new bond could take place in late 2020or early 2021, althoughhe also said state and federal dollars would also be needed to address the county’s growth-related mobility needs. Andrea French, the executive direc- tor of the Transportation Advocacy Group-Houston, also noted the pos- itive eects the pandemic may have on the timeline of local road projects. And in addition to evaluating the rev- enues lost due to COVID-19, French said TAG and other experts are con- sidering ways to boost funding—such as fees for alternatively fueled vehi- cles or an ination-adjusted gas tax— to support future projects. “We understand there are other pri- orities this session, but our argument is one of the things we need to work on is jobs and bolstering our economy, and a great way to do that is to invest in transportation,” French said. Shawn Arrajj, Andrew Christman, Anna Lotz and Eva Vigh contributed to this report.

Funding components The State Highway Fund brings in revenue from several state and federal sources, including taxes and tolls.

Funding sources, scal years 2020-21

Traditional

$9.3B state revenue (30%), $11.32B federal funds (37%)

Nontraditional

$5B Proposition 7 (16%)

Passed in 2015, Proposition 7 sends some sales and use and mo- tor vehicle sales and rental taxes into the State Highway Fund.

$3.9B Proposition 1 (13%)

Passed in 2014, Proposition 1 sends a portion of state severance—or oil and natural gas production—taxes into the State Highway Fund.

Tolls

$309.77M toll revenue and concession fees (1%)

TexasMobility Fund

$954.12M Texas Mobility Fund taxes and fees (3%)

Other

$19.58M general revenue (less than 1%)

$30.8B Total

SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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