Historically, general funds have been used for road needs, and local governments
continue to raise the bulk of their local source funding from general funds. One advantage
of such funding is the increased legislative scrutiny and prioritization of needs that
results. Any increase in spending on transportation requires an offsetting cut in other
expenditures that are not deemed as important unless general taxes are to be increased.
However, if transportation is as critical a function of government as some believe, there
may be merit in taxing the users of the system so as to assure a dedicated source of funds
for investment on a regular basis. Users have generally expressed a willingness to pay
taxes for roads, if they could be assured that the funds would indeed be invested in the
road system. General fund appropriations do not provide this dedicated source of funds
which users and taxpayers know will be spent on the roads. The other disadvantage of
general fund appropriations is the potential for annual fluctuations in the level of
funding. This can create problems in an environment where projects may take up to seven or
eight years to complete.