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County has $210M list for stimulus bucks

Citizen Staff Writer



Pima County officials have an almost $210 million wish list of projects that could be funded from Arizona’s potential $6.2 billion share of the federal economic stimulus package approved by the House of Representatives last week.

The Senate is debating its own economic stimulus bill this week.

Stimulus money for county capital projects could help generate jobs for area residents, particularly in the hard-hit construction industry, county Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in a letter to the area’s congressional delegation.

“Construction activity is at unprecedented and record lows,” Huckelberry said.

“We would ask for your assistance in putting the construction industry back to work, while at the same time building vital, essential public infrastructure so necessary for the recovery of this country,” he said.

Federal stimulus money would supplement the $331.6 million in bonds approved by voters for 10 capital projects, Huckelberry said.

One project that would get a hefty infusion of stimulus money is the stalled $156 million county/city courthouse.

“The courthouse is on hold pending additional revenues,” Huckelberry said Monday.

Voters approved the project in 2006. But construction costs skyrocketed, putting the project out of reach of the financially strapped county.

The county has $76 million set aside for the courthouse project, at the northeast corner of Stone and Toole avenues.

The request for federal stimulus money to help complete the project is $80 million.

Other big dollar requests for federal stimulus funds include about $39.2 million for wastewater treatment system improvements and expansion, $22 million for the Arroyo Chico Flood Control Project, and $16.6 million to complete a new psychiatric care center at University Physicians Hospital at Kino.

The county has $66 million in voter-approved bonds to mostly complete the psychiatric hospital. The $16.6 million in federal stimulus dollars would enable the county to complete the project faster, Huckelberry said.

County officials had considered asking voters in November to approve another $600 million to $700 million of bond projects. Officials decided against putting the package on the ballot because of the economic downturn.

Huckelberry said another bond package in November is tenuous at best.

The county’s most pressing need is complying with a requirement by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, working as the agent of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to upgrade county wastewater treatment facilities at Roger and Ina roads.

The facilities must comply with tougher federal wastewater treatment standards by 2015, Huckelberry said.

To make that deadline, the county will have to come up with about $562 million for the needed improvements and expand the facilities.

That would include building a new treatment facility to replace the aging one on Roger Road, Huckelberry said.

The $562 million could be on the ballot in November in the form of sewer revenue bonds, which would be repaid through increased sewer use and connection fees.

County has $210 million wish list of projects if federal stimulus package passed

Here are the 10 Pima County capital projects that would be assisted by federal stimulus package dollars:

• Joint municipal and justice courts: County funds: $76 million million. Federal stimulus: $80 million

• Arroyo Chico Flood Control Phase 3: County funds: $7.6 million. Federal stimulus: $22 million

• Wastewater Conveyance Regional Plant Interconnect: County funds: $21.6 million. Federal stimulus: $19.6 million

• Santa Cruz Wastewater Interceptor: County funds: $24.9 million. Federal stimulus: $19.6 million

• Public Regional Safety Communication System and Operations Center: County funds: $92 million. Federal stimulus: $13 million

• Pima Animal Care Center rehabilitation: County funds: $4.5 million. Federal stimulus: $3 million

• Psychiatric hospital: County share: $66 million. Federal stimulus: $16.6 million

• Biosolids enhancement at Ina Road wastewater facility: County share: $35 million. Federal stimulus: $22 million

• Pima County Superior Court Building courtroom expansion: County share $1 million. Federal stimulus: $8 million

• Tangerine Landfill closure: County share: $3 million. Federal stimulus: $6 million

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