Raleigh Mayor requests stimulus money


The package could provide hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the nation's struggling economy.

In a news conference Tuesday morning, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker presented a list of projects he'd like funded if the Obama administration is able to approve the package.

"We'd very much like the federal funds to come directly to local governments, whether it be cities, counties, whatever.," Meeker said during Tuesday's news conference. "That way the funds can be expended more quickly"

The projects would improve Raleigh's infrastructure, environment and economy. Meeker said 44 projects have been identified as designed, permitted and ready to implement in six to 12 months.

While the Mayor said the amount of the package has not been announced, it must be significant if it is to improve the severe economic situation. "Raleigh has one-tenth of one percent of the nation's population," he said. "Given that, our portion of the stimulus package should be significant."

The Obama transition team is seeking to mold a package that tracks the incoming administration's policy ideas, puts people to work immediately, enhances sustainability and includes long-term benefits to the nation.

Mayor Meeker said not only will Raleigh's proposed projects bring immediate economic stimulus and benefit to its residents, but they fill the Obama administration's priorities.

The four sustainability projects total $4,725,179 and include a solar LED lighting project, a solar thermal water heating project, a renewable energy project and a green house gases inventory and emissions reduction strategy.

"Combining both solar technology with the LED lighting," he explained. "In that way, you will have the solar panels that will absorb the light, put the energy in a battery, and the battery will run the light at night. That will the light will be entirely off the grid."

Mayor Meeker said that the City of Raleigh has been placing the highest priority on sustainability for the past several years and these projects would further its effort to be the South's most sustainable city.

The Mayor is confident the Raleigh will get funding. "I'm confident we will get some money. The question is whether it'll be a substantial amount that allows us to go ahead with 8 or 10 projects and not just one or two."

He also said, "It would be thousands of jobs if we get the funding we're looking for."

Governor Easley has even urged local lawmakers to support recieving stimulus money.

U.S. Representative Bob Ethridge responded, ""Like Governor Easley, I support an economic stimulus bill that will invest in North Carolina's infrastructure to put our economy back on track. I voted for, and the House passed, a stimulus bill in September, which President Bush refused to sign. Congress will pass a stimulus bill as soon as it reconvenes so that it will be ready for President-elect Obama to sign when he is sworn in on January 20," said Ethridge (D-Lillington).

Representative Brad Miller said he will spend upcoming days talking to auto industry workers in N.C. District 13.

"I'm spending the next two days talking to auto industry workers in my district," Miller told Eyewitness News. "It is abundantly clear to me how much people are hurting and how much they depend on these jobs. I will continue to do everything I can to help our economy get back on track."

The 39 other projects are more traditional and include the construction of facilities, greenway extensions, and park, transportation, sewer, storm water and technology improvements.

For a list and descriptions of all of the proposed projects, click here.

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