Brundidge seeking stimulus funds

Published 9:38 pm Saturday, April 25, 2009

It’s no secret nearly every city government in the state is working to see just how much federal stimulus money they are eligible for.

The city of Brundidge is no different, and City Manager Britt Thomas has been working toward finding programs best suited for the city.

One stimulus project the city is considering applying for is an energy efficiency block grant program.

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According to Thomas, there is $6.2 million available, and the state hopes to give out 20-25 grants totaling nearly $250,000 each.

Thomas said the program is extremely competitive and there is a lot of documentation for those who are awarded the money.

“You have to be able to document and quantify everything,” Thomas said. “The Obama administration is expecting everything to be spent effectively.”

This grant includes three components that are vital to local governments receiving the grant.

The grant is designed to help spur economic growth and create jobs, implement energy efficiency in buildings and transportation sector and reduce energy and greenhouse gases.

Some possible uses of the grant would be changing the traffic light bulbs to LED lights, making the Brundidge waste water treatment plant more energy efficient, capturing methane gas at landfill, reducing carbon emissions, getting an automatic meter reading system.

While, the city hasn’t specifically decided what project it wants to take on to be eligible for this grant, these are some of the ideas the council tossed around at Tuesday’s meeting.

The automatic meter reading system was a big topic because Thomas said the city doesn’t have a specific person to read the meters, and the city has to take employees from other city departments to collect the monthly meter readings.

According to Thomas, one thing the city could do to increase its chances of gaining the grant would be to put some of its own money toward the specified project.

Another proactive step the city could take would be to partner with other entities such as the city of Troy and possible the county on a specific project.

“We could get up to $750,000 if we Troy, Brundidge and Pike County went together,” Thomas said.

Another possible project would be to create a revolving loan fund, Thomas said. “PowerSouth (Energy Cooperative) is a model for this.” Thomas said.

According to PowerSouth’s economic development Web site, “Most RLFs have a maximum loan of $200,00 and a minimum loan of $20,000. The term for each loan varies from three to 10 years, depending on the nature of the project financed. Interest on the loans is usually set at 1 percent below prime, with a floor of 3 percent.”

According to the site, RLF funds are intended for gap financing and are usually limited to one-third of the total value of a project. A letter of credit is typically required as collateral. The intent of the program is to create jobs in rural areas and to improve rural economies.