MOUNT VERNON — In an effort to direct some of the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to local municipalities, officials are compiling lists of projects deemed necessary to their area.
Knox County Engineer Jim Henry has forwarded such a list to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Projects include bridge replacements, road improvements and realignment, water and wastewater projects, and paving.
President Barack Obama has said the goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is getting the economy moving in the short term and, at the same time, making investments for the future. Of the projects submitted by Henry, eight can be ready to begin by summer; another could be ready by winter 2009.
“It’s my understanding that Congress is looking for shovel-ready projects,” said Henry. “Our emphasis in this submission is 2009, and 2010 to 2011 projects.”
Henry said he thought it would be a short time frame between passage of the stimulus package and disbursement of the money.
“There will be meetings with the states, and the states will have internal meetings to determine how that money is going to be used,” he said.
Part of the decision-making process is determining whether the state will be the entity that determines how the money is used, or whether municipalities will be able to get involved.
“We have a mechanism for distributing money throughout the state in the Ohio Public Works Commission,” said Henry. “We have the mechanism to speed up shovel-ready projects.”
Henry said it wasn’t about keeping or putting county employees to work.
“Shovel-ready projects are not job creation, although they could be indirectly,” he said, adding that in order to complete the projects, he would need to recruit some consulting firms to help with project planning, as well as contractors or subcontractors to help with project completion.
There may be some job stimulus, he said, in transportation and improving the Industrial Park. It’s possible some new buiness or industry would move its location to Mount Vernon because of these types of improvements.
Henry said he worked with Mount Veron Mayor Richard Mavis and City Engineer Cameron Keaton in developing the list of shovel-ready or nearly shovel-ready projects.
“This is a regionalized approach for Knox County,” he said.
An additional seven could begin the summer of 2010, with another two ready by summer 2011.
The House passed its version of the recovery act Jan. 28; the Senate is debating its version this week.