County seeks stimulus share
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Forty-three projects, $228 million.
Out of a potential $900 billion federal stimulus package, county officials hope their “small” request will reach the right desks.
Actually, they’re not betting on anywhere near the full $228 million. But as legislators agreed Thursday, Sullivan County should try to grab as much as it can.
“For most of these projects, we already have the land, and I think that’s going to be a key component,” remarked Legislator Leni Binder at the Legislature’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting where the request was unanimously approved.
Topping the list are the ag industrial park in Liberty, the green tech park at Sullivan County Community College, the water line addition to the county airport’s industrial park, 35 miles of paving projects countywide, 12 county bridge replacement/ painting projects, new solid waste facilities, energy efficiency upgrades at county buildings, flood mitigation efforts countywide, and the state-mandated new county jail.
County Manager David Fanslau told legislators the list would be sent to the governor’s office and the staffs of the three people who represent the area in Congress: Maurice Hinchey, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Legislator Alan Sorensen was disappointed the list was not more concise, worrying that it might prove to be “too overwhelming” for decision-makers who will be inundated with requests from across the state and nation.
Plus, Sorensen added, Sullivan County’s list includes some projects that involve little to no job creation and even take land off the tax rolls.
“We need to address the long-term restructuring needs for the county,” he urged, pushing for a “Top 10” list instead. “If we’re submitting projects that have not addressed the feasibility issue, they are not going to be funded.”
Fanslau promised that supporting documentation would be provided for every item on the list and pointed out that federal and state officials are eager to see projects that in the short term will create construction and infrastructure jobs.
Legislature Chair Jonathan Rouis added, “They haven’t identified yet what ‘bent’ they’re going to take.”
He expected county staff will be asked to “fine tune” the list “in a very short period of time.”