Outlays at VW 'on budget'

The spending of state and local money tied to Volkswagen's auto assembly plant is on budget, officials said Tuesday.

But, little if any of the grant money for the project is expected to go unspent, Chattanooga's Industrial Development Board was told.

"I don't anticipate there will be anything left at the end," said City Engineer Bill Payne about grant money related to building infrastructure at the plant site such as roads, stormwater drainage and other needs.

The city, Hamilton County and the state committed more than $230 million to help build the $1 billion factory as part of the incentives to woo the VW plant.

The 2 million-square-foot facility is expected to start production in 2011.

James Williams of EMJ Corp., which is administering some of the outlays, said that nearly $80 million in site clearing and preparation money is already under contract.

Citing 11 individual projects, he said any balances left over will be rolled back into the work for the plant.

Mr. Williams also said that most of another $70 million earmarked for infrastructure work such as building an electric transformer station, a tank farm and a parking lot for workers also is under contract.

"It looks like all things are under budget still," said Ted Mills, the board's chairman.

Panel Vice Chairman Richard Ebersole said it appeared there is little margin for error in terms of the spending.

Mr. Payne reiterated that "I don't think there will be $1 left unspent." He said VW knows that it will be expected to pick up costs over the budgeted amounts.

Richard Gibbs of Thompson Engineering, which is administering a $40 million state grant for the VW Training Academy, offered a chart showing that all but about $6 million is under contract for that facility.

The training center already is occupied to a limited extent. But, Mr. Gibbs said more equipment is delivered daily.

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