DOT begins reporting cash reserves under new state law

RALEIGH — As of Jan. 3, 2020, the N.C. Department of Transportation had total cash holdings of $438,367,801 and expenditures totaling $42,318,482.

The combined cash balance comes from the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund.

The current total for the Highway Fund stands at $157,422,248, which is down $6,998,743 from the end of November. The Highway Trust Fund has a total of $280,945,553.

State law requires NC DOT to maintain a cash balance between $282 million and $1 billion. The combined reserves on hand total more than $1.347 billion, which is down $8,671,241 from the previous report dated Dec. 20-26.

Per Session Law 2019-251, the NC DOT is required to report and publish a weekly “Cash Watch Numbers” report that lists the department’s cash balances and expenditures.

The same law also requires the NC DOT report to the appropriate state legislative committee no later than the 15th of the month when the previous month’s combined cash balance is outside of the prescribed statutory target range. In such an event, the NC DOT must explain why the cash balance is outside of the target range, how the balance will be brought back in line and how long that will take.

In October 2019, State Treasurer Dale Folwell called for Gov. Roy Cooper to fire NC DOT Secretary James Trogdon after learning the department had vastly overspent their budget.

During the 2019 fiscal year, the NC DOT was found to have spent close to $7 billion. That total was $2 billion beyond the department’s designated revenue and resulted in the NC DOT nearing its limit for cash reserves.

The governor’s office didn’t respond to the allegations but instead criticized Folwell and blamed any extra costs on “navigating unprecedented costs from historic storms and flooding.”

About A.P. Dillon 248 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_