|How to Use the Road Ahead Transportation Interactive|(read more)51 minutes ago | 0
NACo recently released The Road Ahead: County Transportation Funding and Financing, a study assessing the role of counties in transportation (roads and bridges), funding challenges and solutions to their transportation systems. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the federal surface transportation funding legislation expires at the end of September 2014, with federal discussions surrounding reauthorization already started. This study and the companion products will help NACo guide discussions regarding federal transportation legislation.
Together with the study, NACo research team released the Road Ahead web-based map interactive featuring state level maps showcasing state and county transportation statistics. The web map provides access also to individual state profiles for the 43 states in which counties play a role in roads and bridges. To access the report, web interactive and state profiles, go to www.uscounties.org/county-transportation-funding/
The interactive showcases eight indicators listed in the top menu. Once the user clicks on the top level indicator, the interactive displays the respective state level data across the map. The user can access the definition for each indicator by hovering over each indicator tab. Additionally, the user ca...
|New Estimates Show Shifting US Population|(read more)4 weeks ago | 0
Population changes can create opportunities or challenges for governments, including county governments. The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 2013 population estimates for states and regions, which are a good preview of the more detailed data at the county level forthcoming in March. The 2013 state population data shows continued national population growth, but with important regional differences.
Population growth varied significantly across regions and states. Overall, the U.S. population expanded by 0.7 percent between 2012 and 2013. This overall growth rate was slightly slower than the previous year, and continued a trend of declining growth rates. At the regional level, the South and West added residents at higher rates than the national average, similar with previous years. Population in the Northeastern and Midwestern regions also expanded, but at much slower rates of growth than the other regions.
Some states stood out for their rapid population growth in 2013. With an economic boom fueled by the expansion in the oil industry, North Dakota was the state with the fastest population growth in 2013, at over 3 percent. Since 2011, North Da...
|2013 in Retrospective: The Recovery of Large Counties|(read more)4 weeks ago | 0
As 2014 starts unfolding, the NACo research team looked into how county economies fared last year and over the recession and recovery to better understand the baselines and growth trends across the country. With this goal in mind, NACo released County Tracker 2013, a study together with a web-based map interactive that examines the recession and recovery patterns across county economies based on the analysis of annual changes in four economic indicators — economic output (GDP), jobs, unemployment rates and home prices.
2013 has been a relatively good year and the U.S. economy is improving. However, the recovery remains fragile and uneven, with high unemployment rates and employment still below pre-recession levels. Large county economies were part of this story of uneven and fragile recovery across county economies.
The 122 large county economies — the economies of counties with more than 500,000 residents — anchor the economy of their metropolitan areas and states. Only 4 percent of all the 3,069 county economies, they represent more than half of all jobs and concentrate 57 percent of county economies’ output (GDP). They have been at the core o...
|Exports on the Ground|(read more)3 months ago | 0
U.S. exports hit a record high in October, helping the growth of the U.S. economy and driving down the trade deficit. This has been a recurrent story over the last several years. Export growth has played a large part in the nation’s recovery, accounting for 37 percent of U.S economic output growth between 2009 and 2012. County economies were part of this trend, as they are the fundamental blocks of regional economies, states and the nation. Counties have actively contributed to the success of U.S. exports by developing initiatives designed to help local businesses increase their exports to international markets and create jobs in their local economies.
All county economies export, but their export profiles differ reflecting the strengths of each county economy. Recent data released by the Brookings Institution offers insight into the export profiles of counties. While the bulk of 2012 U.S. exports — 48 percent — were produced in large county economies, exports mattered more for small county economies, being responsible for almost 20 percent of the economic output in these county economies. Businesses located in medium-sized counties p...
|Hydraulic Fracturing Brings Economic Boom to North Dakota Counties|(read more)4 months ago | 0
Over the past ten years the hydraulic fracturing industry has revolutionized the economies of several North Dakota counties. Dunn County, McKenzie County, Mountrail County and Williams County, all located in the northwest portion of the state, benefited greatly, with the boom creating new jobs and improving the economies of these counties.
Hydraulic Fracturing is a process that allows for the collection of oil and natural gas by applying pressurized liquid to rock formations. All four counties are located on the Bakken Formation, which is prime territory for fracturing. Oil production on the formation has significantly increased; in 2013, over 80% of the oil production in N.D. came from these four counties.
The growth of fracturing has led to N.D. becoming a major producer of crude oil in the U.S. – in August 2013, the state produced over 900,000 barrels of oil a day, behind only Texas among states. From 2005 to 2011, the number of people employed in the oil and gas sectorincreased from 6,000 to 35,000, with the majority of these jobs being created along the Bakken Formation. In 2011 ...
|Alabama Counties Receive Funding for Roads and Bridges in Need|(read more)4 months ago | 0
Alabama counties are tackling the national problem of deteriorating roads, highways, and bridges through an innovative partnership with the state department of transportation that couples federal highway dollars and local matching funds.
The project known as the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program or ATRIP, began in early 2012 with local governments afforded the opportunity to compete for funding of projects emphasizing safety, economic development, congestion and the growing problem of bridges closed to school bus traffic. In the 18 months that have followed, three additional application cycles produced applications from every county, scores of cities and universities.
ATRIP was initiated by Governor Robert Bentley with the support of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Association of County Engineers of Alabama. Utilizing the so-called GARVEE bond program authorized in the federal transportation legislation, Alabama will issue bonds to cover 80 percent of the program cost and repay the bonds with future federal gasoline tax revenue.
To receive funding, counties and cities submitted applications to ALDOT. A committee selected by the Governor analyzed each proposal and provided recommendations to Gov. Bentley. Selected projects received...
|A New Benefit for NACo Members – MMA Municipal Issuer Brief| (read more)5 months ago | 0
Municipal bonds are the most important financing tools for counties. They provide counties, states and other local governments with needed money to finance essential long-term infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals, roads and bridges. Not only are municipal bonds safe investments, but also the interest earned from them has been tax-exempt, making them an attractive option for investors.
NACo members can go to this link and sign up to receive the weekly brief.
The MIBdiscusses one major subject in detail every week. For example, the inaugural edi...
|Eyeing the TIGER Grants|(read more)6 months ago | 0
Counties play an essential role in building, maintaining and operating the nation’s infrastructure. Many of their projects go beyond their jurisdictional boundaries and benefit to a larger sway of municipalities. To assist in this effort, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created in 2009 the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program that helps states and local governments with their transportation projects. At the beginning of this month, the U.S. DOT recently announced the 2013 TIGER round of grants and grantees. Over 50 projects in 37 states received more than $470 million in funding for infrastructure projects critical to national and local needs through this discretionary grant program. County governments are involved in 14 projects with a total investment of nearly $140 million.
These 14 projects are located throughout the country, with nine in the West and South and the rest in the Central and the Northeast regions. In only four grants, counties are the direct applicant, such as Pima Count...
|Follow the Money|(read more)6 months ago | 0
Counties depend on the strength of their economies to generate healthy revenue streams. The U.S. economy has been recovering overall, even that unemployment rates are still above seven percent and housing prices are still below pre-recession peaks. While the data from the U.S. Census of Governments on 2012 county revenue sources has not been released yet, the 2007 figures provide a baseline for counties’ sources of revenue before the recession.
Counties collected more than $525 billion in revenue in 2007, with more than a third coming from taxes such as residential property taxes, commercial or business property taxes and personal property taxes. Property taxes are the bulk of the tax revenue raised by counties, at almost 60 percent. While the 2008 housing crisis affected counties’ residential property tax revenues, the strength and timing of the effects vary county by county. There is often a lag in the effect of changes in housing prices on property tax revenue since properties are taxed on the assessed values of the houses, which may lag for years if the county has a long assessment cycle.