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Hill seeks ‘Obama’ money

Robert “Bob” Hill, chair of Farragut’s municipal planning commission, hopes Farragut will consider establishing a task force to gain funds from President Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus plan.

“The stimulus plan applies to almost everything the Town does ... and things we plan to do in the future, like a community center,” Hill said in an interview with farragutpress.

“The stimulus plan, although nobody knows the shape of it yet, or what it’s going to contain, may contain things that we can use directly that are useful to the Town and to the public,” he added.

Farragut wouldn’t have to use tax funds for infrastructure projects if it were able to use stimulus plan monies.

Hill wants Farragut to establish a task force to determine which projects to submit for stimulus plan funding.

“What you would want the task force to do is ... identify the essential things you want to do and leave the details to someone else,” Hill said.

“The task force is more strategic than tactical,” he added.

However, according to Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III, the task force is unnecessary.

The current thought among government leaders, Ford said, is that stimulus plan funds will be distributed to the states and the governor will allocate funds through current lists.

“The magnitude of the stimulus package will be $85 billion,” Ford said.

“There will be a great focus on transportation projects, wastewater projects, energy-efficient upgrades for public facilities and rural transportation projects,” he added.

“The general feeling today is the package will focus on expenditure or commitment of 25 percent of the funds within a 90-to-120-day period,” Ford said.

Fifty percent of funds must be spent in a year; the remaining 25 percent in two years. In other words, the money will have to be spent quickly.

In order to use these federal funds in the allotted time, projects must be ready to go.

“This requires projects that are well thought out, ready to go,” Ford said.

“So the recommendation is that municipalities should get a few projects in order that they can identify they are ready for construction,” he added.

Ford said, because the funding and project construction times will be so tight, Gov. Phil Bredesen is likely to pick projects from existing lists, such as Tennessee Depart-ment of Transportation or regional Transportation Planning Organi-zation transportation project queues.

The TPO lists, specifically, contain “priority” projects, such as Farragut’s Campbell Station Road extension.

“We are well positioned there for that project,” Ford said.

“We have the plans; the state is acquiring the right of way. This is something we envisioned ... starting this summer,” he added, at least before TDOT stated a few months ago the project was about $2 million behind in funding.

The stimulus plan funding would help Farragut get the project going.

Hill will put his recommendation before Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen at its next meeting, Thursday, Jan. 29.


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