Sulphur Springs paves way for potential funding

Sulphur Springs – The Sulphur Springs City Council has made arraignments that could provide the city with government funding necessary to tackle major infrastructure projects.

The City hopes to benefit from a proposed economic stimulus package by President-Elect Barack Obama, which would fund public works projects. The package could devote between $500 billion and $1 trillion to infrastructure improvements such as streets, water and sewer lines, and help create jobs.

Once Obama is in office and if the stimulus package is passed, area cities with "shovel-ready" projects, or projects where the planning and engineering is already complete, will be better suited to receive funding.

Last week, in addition to approving a reimbursement resolution, the Sulphur Springs City Council approved a contract with TCB Inc. for design and engineering of Connally Street streetscape. The agreement would provide the planning and engineering needed to be considered "shovel-ready" if and when a stimulus package is passed.

The design of Connally Street would mirror the City's recent Main Street project, just completed this fall. The project focused on narrowing the roadway and widening the sidewalks for more seating. Main Street is also now equipped with a venue for a farmers market. The city also designated several electrical outlets along Main Street, to allow for not only lighting, but electricity for vendors during outdoor festivals and speakers for ambient music. All are in an effort to bring more business and events to downtown and attract citizens.

The passing of the reimbursement resolution last week allows the City to pay for the engineering out of future bonds that they would sell for Connally and other projects. Additional projects in Sulphur Springs include a $4 million airport project and $3 million Houston Street project, both of which the City hopes to receive funding for from the stimulus package.

Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell says the goal is the put these projects in a state where they would qualify for the funding, but does not guarantee approval. He says if the City were not to receive the funding by way of stimulus monies, the project probably won't be done. The only other way, according to Maxwell, would be unless municipal bond interest rates for cities drop below 5% and eases the cost of borrowing money. However, right now a majority of those rates sit above 6%.