Orange County and Durham County are parties to a Cost Sharing Agreement for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project that specifies the amount of funding that each party is expected to contribute to the project. This Agreement also contains a decision-making framework to respond to unexpected material changes in either revenues or expenditures.
The most current financial model for the light rail project relied on a state contribution of 10 percent or $247.6 million. In June, the North Carolina General Assembly placed several limitations on the light rail project including limiting the maximum state contribution to $190 million. This limitation created a funding shortfall of $57.6 million.
Consistent with the terms of the Cost Sharing Agreement, representatives from the Orange County and Durham County Boards have been meeting throughout the summer to discuss potential solutions to the $57.6 million state funding shortfall. The parties closely reviewed their current financial commitments, and Durham County examined any unused dedicated transit revenue capacity.
Durham County's dedicated transit revenues are robust and sufficient to cover the revenue shortfall, and the negotiating team agreed to present this solution to their respective governing boards for approval in advance of a project progress report due to the Federal Transit Administration in early September.
Wendy Jacobs, chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners emphasized the importance of this collaboration, “Durham County continues to remain committed to working closely with our Orange County partners for the sucessful implementation of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Project,which will provide an important transportation option and better connect the people of our communities to jobs, healthcare and education.”
The negotiated funding solution is recognized in two letters, one from the chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners and one from the chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. The Durham County Board of Commissioners was scheduled to consider their letter on Aug. 27, 2018. Orange County's letter was included on the Sept. 4, 2018 agenda.
Mark Dorosin, chair of the Board of Orange County Commissioners, expressed his appreciation for the proposed funding solution, “We appreciate the collaborative and cooperative support of our colleagues in Durham, and are encouraged that we've been able to come up with a positive strategy to keep the Durham-Orange Light Rail project moving forward.”
Final funding commitments are required prior to the approval of a full funding grant agreement by the Federal Transit Administration. Both Durham and Orange County are committed to formally amending the Cost Sharing Agreement and each county's transit plan to codify the change in funding commitments on a schedule that supports GoTriangle's application for a September 2019 Full Funding Grant Agreement.