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Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties receive about $300,000 for road improvements within city limits

The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun distributing nearly $132.7 million in State Street Aid to Municipalities, also known as Powell Bill funds, to 508 municipalities across the state.

The initial allocation, half of the overall total, will be going out this week. The other half will be paid by Jan. 1. The number of recipients who applied to be considered for funds is the same as 2019.

The Powell Bill requires municipalities to use the money primarily for street resurfacing, but it can also be used for the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, drainage systems, sidewalks, and greenways.
“The Powell Bill funding helps local governments improve transportation systems within their communities,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “These funds help complete critical projects like repairing roads and supporting local projects such as bikeways and sidewalks.”

The amount each municipality receives is based on a formula set by the N.C. General Assembly, with 75 percent of the funds based on population, and 25 percent based on the number of locally maintained street miles.

In Macon County, both Franklin and Highlands will be receiving funding for projects this year. Franklin will receive $116,842.14 this year, with $58,421.07 being sent out this week. Highlands was allocated $49,292.58 total with $24,646.29 being sent this week.

In Jackson County, Dillsboro received $5,768.79 this year, with $2,884.40 being sent this week. Forest Hills received a total of $11,365.79 with $5,682.90 in the first payment. Sylva, as the largest municipality, received $66,867.20 total and $33,433.60 this week.

As the only municipality in Swain County, Bryson City received $41,782.03 total with $20,891.02 being sent this week. The fund is named for Junius K. Powell, a former state senator and mayor of Whiteville who was a primary sponsor of the 1951 bill to help the state’s cities with urban road problems. The first allocation of Powell Bill funds was for $4.5 million and was distributed to 386 cities and towns. Including this week’s allocations, municipalities have received more than $4.8 billion in street aid funding since the program started.

Each municipality establishes its eligibility annually by submitting, to the Department of Transportation, a Certified Statement, Street Listing and a Certified Powell Bill Map. The map is required if changes have been made to the municipality’s corporate limits or if the mileage has changed. In addition, each municipality is statutorily required to submit a financial statement of expenditures and revenues for the preceding fiscal year.

The first State Street-Aid allocation was disbursed in 1951 at a rate of one-half (1/2) cent per gallon of taxed motor fuel and continued annually at that rate through 1971. The general statutes were amended and the rate changed in 1972 and in 1982. From 1972 through 1981, the rate was one (1) cent per gallon. In 1982, it was increased to one and three-eighths (1-3/8) cents per gallon.

The 1986 General Assembly increased the State Motor Fuel Tax effective July 15, 1986, and at the same time increased the Powell Bill rate to one and three-fourths (1-3/4) cents on each taxed gallon. This rate became effective for the 1987 allocation. The 2013 General Assembly revised the annual amount appropriated out of the State Highway Fund to a sum equal to 10.4% of the net amount after refunds that was produced during the fiscal year. This rate became effective for the 2013 allocation. Effective for fiscal year 2015-2016, the General Assembly ratified SL 2015-241, which stabilized the program’s funding by appropriating the amount of funds to be disbursed.

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