Kitsap assembles stimulus package wish list

In anticipation of federal funds distributed to stimulate the economy, Kitsap County is prioritizing projects that such funds will be used to support.

“When we’re determining where this money should go, we need to make sure the projects are ready,” said South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido at a Monday meeting. “We need to have projects that will be looked on favorably, and pull it together so it looks good on paper.”

When the possibility of a stimulus package was first discussed, even before Barack Obama assumed the presidency, local governments around the country began determining their priorities.

Kitsap followed this trend, drawing up a list of 63 projects that could qualify for federal funds.

After presenting this to the commissioners in January, Administrative Services Director Shaun Gabriel whittled down the list to include 10 major projects.

The next step is for Gabriel to meet with Garrido in order to refine the proposal for a better presentation.

The projects making the cut include the widening of Bethel Road, the renovation of the Kitsap County Courthouse and the development of a fiber-optic network for emergency use.

While the projects need to be well planned, almost everything else about the stimulus package is uncertain--beginning with which projects will qualify.

Beyond this, Gabriel said there is no way to tell the amount of the stimulus package, or how much Kitsap County might receive.

So as the county develops the 2009 budget, it will be unable to accurately predict how much will be available.

Finally, it’s uncertain where the money will come from — the fed, the state or administered by the Washington Association of Counties.

This lack of consistency is causing some confusion in local governments, as well as some aggravation. North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer feels that the rules haven’t been clearly defined. He said the stimulus package is intended for infrastructure and capital projects, but some municipalities are hoping use it to replenish shortages in their general operating fund.

This, he said, penalizes Kitsap and other counties which have shown frugality in the past.

With all these variables, Gabriel still feels it benefits the county to prepare to plead a case for certain projects.

“It’s better for us to be prepared,” Gabriel said. “Every government has identified its priorities and putting them in order. We are trying to identify as many funding sources as possible, so the projects are supported.”


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