Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shovel Ready

Local groups are currently compiling a list of "shovel ready" projects for Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton to include in the city's request for economic stimulus funding.

Much of president-elect Barack Obama's focus has been on infrastructure projects that will be ready to go within three to four months of being funded. The stimulus plan is being touted as the largest public works program since the interstate system.

So far, some local projects that might be submitted include sidewalk improvements and trees on portions of Madison and Cooper, and a greenway connecting Overton Park with Overton Square.

The mayor is soliciting projects from the CCC, RDC, the Chamber of Commerce, the University of Memphis, the Bioworks foundation, and Southwest Tennesse Community College, among others.

I'm all for an economic stimulus, believe me, but I think we have to be careful of building things as the answer. City CFO Robert Lipscomb will tell you that when the city builds something with money from its capital fund, it tries to calculate the effect the new facility will have on its operating fund.

On the other hand, I also think there are smart ways to spend the money: renovations to make government buildings more energy efficient, for instance, would mean cost savings in the future (not to mention the example it sets for others).

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