ITD News
Associated Press
News Link

ITD presents FY2005 budget to JFAC

ITD Director Dave Ekern and department administrators presented the FY2005 budget request to members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee Thursday. The message was simple and straightforward – the proposed spending authority of $425.9 million will enable the department to provide the services and products Idaho citizens expect, and to deliver them in the most efficient manner possible.

Transportation Board Chair Chuck Winder opened the JFAC testimony by reminding legislators of ITD’s long history of accurately projecting revenue, reviewing financial statements monthly and making spending adjustments throughout the year as necessary.

Most of the director's presentation focused on the products and services that Idahoans will derive from ITD’s FY05 budget. The four primary goals of the budget include:

1. Supporting Idaho’s economic health
2. Improving program/service delivery
3. Improving safety and security, and
4. Enhancing system operations

The 90-minute appearance was equally divided among Ekern’s formal presentation and a dialogue segment in which legislators asked questions about the proposal.

Ekern explained three legislative bills the department has submitted to the Legislature related to:

  • The U.S.A. PATRIOT Act of 2002 and the requirement for background checks of drivers hauling hazardous material;
  • The permanent transfer of commercial truck audit functions to the Idaho State Tax Commission; and
  • A process to expedite, streamline and improve the delivery of construction projects through changes in contract dispute resolution.

The director also talked about ITD’s three enhancement requests that are part of the FY05 budget: $16,000 for an FAA-required terrain avoidance warning system; $1 million in pass-through of federal funds for local airports; and dedicated funding to align the Division of Aeronautics' capital outlay with the department's multi-year capital facilities plan.

Most of his presentation focused on the products and services that Idahoans will derive from ITD’s FY05 budget. The four primary goals of the budget include:

  1. Supporting Idaho’s economic health
  2. Improving program/service delivery
  3. Improving safety and security, and
  4. Enhancing system operations

What should Idahoans expect from its investment in ITD?

Highways contract construction
$241.6 million (56.7 percent of the department's budget) will be used in contract construction projects, including 15 new bridge projects; improvement of 79 lane miles; the preservation, maintenance and improvement of 1,141 lane miles of highway; 47 safety and operations projects; 128 local highway projects; and 86 projects involving design and right-of-way acquisition.

That financial investment is part of a six-year, $1.5 billion plan for both scheduled construction and projects under development through FY09.

Public Transportation
$4.2 million (about 1 percent) of ITD’s budget, will be devoted to public transportation services. The plan supports six urban communities, 24 rural communities, six metropolitan planning organizations, assistance to the state’s 61 senior citizen centers, purchase of 11 new transit vehicles through the Vehicle Investment Program and ensure safety and performance inspections of 325 public transportation vehicles now in service.

ITD will invest $3.4 million statewide (or .8 percent of its budget) in programs administered by its Division of Aeronautics. Those programs focus primarily on safety and economic development. More than 24 community airport improvement projects and seven commercial airports will receive economic development grants in FY05.

More than 27 airport improvement projects will be funded, along with search and rescue efforts and safety programs for the state’s 2,800 registered pilots and 2,300 registered aircraft. Idaho records 1.9 million commercial aircraft boardings and attracts 1.2 million visitors annually through its airports.

Highway operations
$130.5 million (or 30.6 percent) of ITD’s budget will be targeted for programs and services that directly benefit customers – snow removal from 1.5 million miles of highway, application of 294,000 cubic yards of anti-skid material and spraying 1.3 million gallons of chemical de-icer.

Routine pavement management involves the application of 54,000 gallons of asphalt and 82,000 tons of road mix and the installation of 22,000 miles of pavement markers. More than 300 projects will be developed and delivered and about 120 new contracts will be administered. Funds also will cover about 23 local maintenance agreements and provide more than 200 training courses for approximately 3,100 participants.

Division of Motor Vehicles
The division’s expenditures account for $17.7 million (4.2 percent) of ITD’s budget. DMV is the department’s largest “service” provider and is responsible for administering 309,000 driver licenses, 550,000 vehicle titles, 55,000 Idaho-based commercial vehicle registrations and 1.6 million passenger vehicle registrations. It also is responsible for Idaho’s Ports of Entry that annually weigh 2.7 million commercial trucks.

Planning, administrative services and capital facilities
ITD will direct 5.8 percent of its budget ($28.5 million) to a critical, yet rarely seen part, of its operation – planning efforts, administration and capital projects.

The investment in planning will be used to evaluate traffic on 4,944 centerline miles of highway, measure congestion in more than 22 cities, operate 168 automated traffic-recording sites, provide 499 skill-enhancing training courses, and partner with 10 state and 44 local entities to share ITD’s wide-area computer networks, data, video images and web services.

Ekern also discussed the 18-month process that produced a long-range transportation vision for Idaho late last year.

Through that extensive statewide process, the department learned that Idaho citizens want:

  1. Multimodal systems that provide choices
  2. Quality of life that respects history and protects its environment
  3. Being engaged in making decisions about the system, and
  4. Achieving goals within the bounds of reasonable funding

“We believe that the budget proposal that’s before you takes that next step in the journey to the vision that the citizens are articulating for the next 30 years,” Ekern said in closing his formal presentation.

“And it helps us to meet the potential of a transportation system that has not yet been fully realized throughout our state.”

Legislators responded with a number of questions relating to construction contractors, public transportation, the loss of highly skilled and qualified employees, the department’s merit increase program and its efficiency measures.

JFAC members complimented the department on the process of providing merit increases to more than 1,800 employees, and one legislator suggested it could become a model for other state agencies.

After considering the proposed ITD budget, JFAC will meet Feb. 13 to make a formal recommendation that will be forwarded to the House and Senate for debate. The emerging budget will advance to the governor for final approval.