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Published on Friday, September 30, 2016

OFM hosts stakeholder meeting to discuss MTCA stability

A capital budget proviso asked the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to form a workgroup to explore opportunities to stabilize programs and activities funded by the state’s Model Toxics Control Account (MTCA). The accounts have seen tremendous swings of available revenue as a result of budget decisions and the downturn in oil prices. Last year this manifested in a large fight over which previously appropriated projects would need to be delayed – pitting toxic cleanup projects against stormwater projects. This put cities in a difficult position because we need and value both.

The workgroup consisted of state staff, and local experts from cities, counties, ports, environmental groups, and the industries that pay the Hazardous Substances Tax that funds the MTCA accounts. Many of the conversation topics were familiar to those who have been following these accounts over recent years. What looks like short-term instability with major drops in revenue also looks like a steadily growing account if you look at a longer time period. Industry representatives continue to have significant concerns about expanding or altering the tax without much more attention and review of where resources are being spent today. For cities, we are caught in the middle of some of these philosophical arguments. Ultimately, cities are mostly interested in ensuring that communities have a place to turn to fund necessary projects.

We will continue to engage with efforts to bolster these accounts either through long-term reforms or short-term budget decisions.