Downey seeks slice of economic stimulus pie

DOWNEY -- City leaders have compiled a short list of "shovel-ready" projects they say could commence as soon as tomorrow if given a small slice of the $787 billion economic stimulus plan signed into law by President Barack Obama last week.Whether or not Downey receives any of the money remains to be seen, but the City Council on Tuesday agreed to begin investigating and preparing state grant applications that could net the city more than $14 million to replace aging sewer lines and groundwater wells. Desi Alvarez, deputy city manager for Downey, said the city was positioning itself for the expected disbursement of $281 million by the State Water Resources Control Board. The final figure could change, however, as state and federal legislators grapple with how to distribute the funds. "We're interested only in grants, not loans. As of right now, that's not the case," said Alvarez, who is overseeing Downey's lobbying for stimulus money. "Everyone is still trying to figure out how [the stimulus] will be implemented. The next three weeks will be very active in the sense of stuff happening. Right now it's just premature." In a report to the City Council, Alvarez listed three "shovel-ready" projects that involve replacing and rehabilitating sewer lines and a groundwater well. Without stimulus money, the projects would probably be put off for a "few years." "But they can be done tomorrow if someone says, 'We'll give you 10 million bucks,'" Alvarez said, before adding, "None of these projects, if not done yesterday, will result in a calamity in the city." The projects could change depending on which state agencies begin dispersing money, Alvarez said. "As soon as we figure out where the money is, we'll be proactive," he said. ********** Published: February 27, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 45