City Hall ponders stimulus money | ParkRecord.com

City Hall ponders stimulus money

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall is considering its options in tapping some of the $787 billion in stimulus money contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a centerpiece of President Obama’s economic plans.

Kent Cashel, who is the deputy director in the Public Works Department, says local officials are especially interested in the prospects of obtaining funding for the bus system, energy programs and the Police Department.

He says, however, staffers have not finalized their requests and they continue to analyze the options within the act.

"We’re not looking just to get fluff," Cashel says.

He mentions, as an example, the transit system could possibly receive between $3 million and $5 million in stimulus funding, a sum that he says would be "real big" for City Hall. Some requests have already been submitted. Cashel says some of the funding could arrive before July 1.

"There’s so much in that bill, in terms of different programs," Cashel says.

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He wants City Hall departments to assemble lists of possible requests within a few weeks. It is unclear how much in stimulus money City Hall will request.

Cashel is scheduled to discuss the stimulus funding with Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council on Thursday.. The elected officials and staffers that day are also scheduled to begin their annual budget negotiations, which are expected to be more difficult this year as a spending plan is crafted amid the recession.

City Hall has sought federal funding for years, and it has been especially aggressive since the period before the 2002 Winter Olympics, when money from Washington flowed into Utah as the state prepared for the Games.

The local bus system and waterworks projects have been some of the major beneficiaries of federal monies over the years, with the Old Town transit center being built mostly with federal dollars. Park City has retained lobbyists over the years to assist with the efforts.

Obama and congressional leaders see the stimulus money as a way to reignite the American economy.

Candy Erickson, a Park City Councilwoman, said City Hall is smart to be interested in the stimulus money, backing staffers as they consider asking for financial help with the transit system and energy programs.

""You’re silly not to. We have a lot of things we’re doing that could be funded through this," she says, mentioning a planned water pipeline between the Rockport Reservoir and the Park City area and adding, "We have the projects. That’s what the money was designed for, put people back to work."