published Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Chattanooga: Details trickle in on city stimulus

by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Mayor office meeting

Chattanooga officials gave detailed estimates Friday on how much money might come to the city from the federal economic stimulus bill, including $3.6 million for weatherization projects, $2.5 million for energy-efficiency programs and $2 million for homeless prevention.

“I think we’re well positioned to compete,” Mayor Ron Littlefield said at a meeting with city department and area agency heads.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Kathleen Greeson
    Traffic flows past rows of orange barrels on Shallowford Road near Interstate-75 as construction continues Thursday on a road-widening project.

Mr. Littlefield called the meeting to get an update on ways the city could tap into the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. Mr. Littlefield held a meeting two weeks ago and directed his department heads to brainstorm on how they could funnel some of the funds into the city.

Chief of Police Freeman Cooper said his department immediately was applying for 50 additional officers through the Community Oriented Policing Services grant.

“We don’t anticipate getting that many, but we’re hoping for 20 or 30,” he said.

Melissa Taylor, director of transportation planning for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County-North Georgia Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the group expected $10.5 million in federal money. She estimated $8.3 million would go to Tennessee and $2.7 million to Chattanooga.

Public Works Deputy Administrator Lee Norris said the money could not be used on local roads, however.

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“Would some of our main arteries be good for this?” Mr. Littlefield asked.

“Certainly,” Mr. Norris responded.

One large sum of money has been found within human and neighborhood services.

Bernadine Turner, administrator for the Department of Human Services, said it should qualify for $3.2 million in weatherization projects, and the department plans to start hiring contractors within weeks.

As the meeting ended, city Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison warned department heads about any projects or programs that would need “ongoing money” after the federal dollars ran out.

“Pay close attention to the requirements,” she said.

Hamilton County officials said Friday they also are continuing to look at how they can grab economic stimulus funding.

“We are continuing to examine the stimulus bill,” Mayor Claude Ramsey said. “Our department heads and administrators are evaluating all aspects and options of the bill to see what is available.”

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