Hernando officials to rank 10 projects on stimulus list

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners have their Top 10 list of projects they hope to pay for with federal economic stimulus dollars. Now, they want to know which are the most important in terms of infrastructure improvement and the number of jobs they would create.

In directing County Administrator David Hamilton and his staff to rank the projects, commissioners acknowledged on Tuesday it won't be easy.

Commission chairman David Russell said that although each of the 10 projects has merit, "We would probably be lucky to get just one" if President Obama's stimulus plan wins approval.

The Obama administration has insisted that the projects be "shovel ready,'' and Hamilton told commissioners that the list of projects should signal to the federal government that "the county is ready.''

The $131.7 million worth of projects range from a $2 million rejuvenation of south Brooksville to big-ticket items such as a $50 million judicial complex.

The list was culled from an initial proposal of 43 community infrastructure projects identified by county staffers as ones that would likely qualify for federal funding. Hamilton stressed that the top projects were presented for discussion purposes only.

"We don't even know what the rules are," Hamilton said of the federal stimulus plan.

Several commissioners said they wanted to know more about how the projects would help alleviate the county's unemployment rate, currently at 10.9 percent.

"It's important to know the number of jobs it would create," Commissioner Jeff Stabins said.

Several capital improvement projects that have been in the works for years are on the list, including a $20 million expansion of the Glen Subregional Wastewater Treatment Plant on Hexam Road that would serve residents of northwestern Hernando County.

Commissioner John Druzbick said he hoped the plant expansion would make the final cut. "There is going to be growth there in the future," he said. "We need to be ready for that."

Hamilton said he and his staff expect to complete priority ranking of the projects by the next commission meeting on Feb. 24.

In other business, the commission voted unanimously to finance the $88,754.59 renovation by Scott Nicoletti Homes of an abandoned structure at the Cypress Lakes Preserve, which will be used as a security station.

The 327-acre preserve is operated by the Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department. Once renovated, the structure will serve as on-site living quarters for a law enforcement officer.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

Hernando officials to rank 10 projects on stimulus list 02/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 9:00pm]

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