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Dauphin County is taking the lead on what could prove to be a replicable model across Pennsylvania for smaller municipalities and private developers looking for that missing financial piece to push an infrastructure project into the fast lane.
Earlier this month, the county commissioners announced the creation of the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank, a low-interest revolving loan program that will work in tandem with the state Department of Transportation. PennDOT runs the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank.
Because of a structured capital improvement program that spans a few decades, Dauphin County will wrap up work on its final county bridge replacement in 2014. County officials said they will direct that funding stream — annual liquid fuels dollars from the state — to the DCIB.
That annual allocation of about $980,000 will be used to leverage up to $30 million in state funds over the next three years, local and state officials said.
The economic impact on Dauphin County could be significant since this program will benefit local projects for decades to come, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said.
"Transportation infrastructure is the backbone of our economy," he said.
Not all counties are in the same financial position as Dauphin County, so putting aside liquid fuels money might not be an option.
"It's something they can work toward," Commissioner Jeff Haste said.
I agree. This program is a better idea than trying to disperse that annual county allocation to all municipalities equally, which could end up being a one-time or occasional line item in the general fund.
At least here the money will come back around with greater funding potential, given the state's resources.
So, who will be the next county?
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.