Wisconsin cities were not shorted money by the state Department of Transportation and should receive funds they are due under a federal grant program in the coming months, according to an analysis by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The analysis was conducted after several cities, including Madison, Eau Claire, Green Bay and Appleton reported last week that they did not receive millions of dollars they were expecting to fund local transportation projects. Money comes to the cities through regional organizations called metropolitan planning organizations under the Surface Transportation Program. The program is administered by the state but funded with federal money.
The state DOT said last week that local complaints were a misunderstanding due to a change in the funding cycle, but some local officials said the agency did not explain or communicate the change to them.
Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysts affirmed that in a memo which was drafted for Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay. The memo was given to the Cap Times Tuesday.
"Despite the confusion surrounding the program changes described in this memorandum, and while some local projects may not be funded in the timeframe that local officials had expected, DOT indicates each ... recipient should receive their total allocation," wrote LFB fiscal analyst John Wilson-Tepeli.
The Federal Highway Administration is also reviewing and confirming the allocation of funds, according to the memo. Federal Highway Administration officials met with DOT officials Friday, DOT confirmed.
Bill Schaefer, transportation planning manager for the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board said there is urgency to get the federal money as the board is already planning projects for the next year. He is expecting a formal memo outlining how the state will disburse federal money, he said.
"Supposedly we're going to get a memo from federal highway documenting what was agreed to in terms of what WisDOT will do going forward on this funding issue," Schaefer said.
Until that comes, Schaefer said he is satisfied with the federal response.
"I do feel they went to bat for us to make sure we're getting the money we're supposed to and that we have the flexibility to spend the money on our projects," he said.