County Executive Kathleen Falk sent a letter to President-elect Obama today asking he consider including funding in an upcoming federal economic stimulus package for road construction and green energy projects that will create good paying jobs in Dane County.
In her letter, Falk proposes more than $6 million in road improvement projects across the county and $1.4 million in bridge replacements. The county would fund 20% of the total cost of the projects. These projects would be in addition to road projects Falk is funding to the tune of $2.6 million in the county’s 2009 capital budget.
(These projects) “would benefit both urban and rural residents throughout the county and the thousands of commuters who travel to Dane County from surrounding counties for work each day,” Falk wrote
She noted the road and highway projects will be contracted out so that private sector jobs would be created.
In addition, Falk asks the President-elect to consider the job and energy creation potential of “cow power” in the form of manure digesters that could be located in various parts of the county with concentrations of dairy farms. Dane County is working on what’s believed to be the first “community” digester in the country in that it would link several farms in an area near Waunakee. Digesters process the manure and convert it into methane and energy, while the byproducts of this process are converted into everything from bedding for cows to potting soil for gardens. Digesters also can remove phosphorous, a significant pollutant, from manure.
“When successful, this is a model that can be replicated throughout the Upper Midwest with the results of lots of sustainable energy, reduced air and water pollution, more financially secure farms, and lots of new jobs,” Falk wrote.
In her letter Falk also discusses the economic and environmental benefits of having additional “cow power” generating digesters in other parts of Dane County including possibly in the Black Earth Creek watershed.
Finally, Falk reminds the President-Elect that the credit squeeze is stopping or making local government borrowing (issuing bonds) more expensive. This has the effect of halting or delaying local government projects that create infrastructure and jobs. Examples of such projects include roads, wastewater treatment plants, or public buildings. Falk suggests that the President Elect’s stimulus package contain up to $50 billion to finance those local government projects at reasonable rates for the local government and guaranteed, profitable returns for the taxpayers.
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