Infrastructure plan could change funding for Berks projects

Infrastructure plan could change funding for Berks projects

READING, Pa. - President Trump is calling his actions on infrastructure the "biggest and boldest" investment yet.

"This morning, I submitted legislative principles to Congress that will spur the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history," the president said.

President Trump said America's infrastructure is crumbling and problems local leaders face trying to fund infrastructure improvements are horrendous. He's calling for using $200 billion in federal money for improvements, with the hope of spurring $1.5 trillion in local, state and private investment.

Officials said there are a few big issues counties agree on when it comes to infrastructure.

"One, we need major improvements to the nation's infrastructure," said Republican Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach. "It's largely been piecemeal over the years. Two, we need an improvement to the red tape."

Under his plan, the president said projects would get approved much faster. That's a part of the plan Leinbach can get behind. He said, right now, it takes one to three years to get federal approval to move forward with certain bridge and road improvements, but he also has concerns.

"The big question is funding," Leinbach said. "Where is the money coming from?"

He said, in Pennsylvania, the state and federal government cover 80 percent of any given project and the remaining 20 percent comes from property tax, but some are concerned those numbers could flip, leaving the brunt of the cost on local government.

"This would be extremely difficult for Pennsylvania, because when it comes to roads, that's overwhelmingly a municipal issue," Leinbach said. "We have 71 municipalities in this county."

Leinbach said there are a lot questions and he'll be looking into it to determine the best move, but he said if it turns out to place a bigger burden on municipal governments, he could see Berks County wanting to opt out.

Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concern surrounding the plan.

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