The leaders of the five Tri-Valley cities are in Washington, D.C., today meeting with members of the California congressional delegation and other government leaders in hopes of gaining federal funds to jumpstart a faltering economy and speed along big ticket projects needed here.
Key among these efforts is a plan to use billions of dollars from the government's economic stimulus package to buy state bonds issued by the state of California. That action could end the state's cash-flow problems long enough for the state to meet its payroll and program obligations which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is reducing, with the state expected to run out of cash as early as next month.
Because of a looming $41 billion budget deficit and a low credit rating, state officials expect they would have trouble borrowing funds that it desperately needs through the sale of bonds on the open market. With the federal government buying them, the state could make it through the current budget year without major spending cuts.
This would please the five-member Tri-Valley delegation that met Thursday with Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton). In Washington for a series of meetings and also to attend this weekend's U.S. Conference of Mayors, the five are Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton, Newell Arnerich of Danville, Abram Wilson of San Ramon, Tim Sbranti of Dublin and Vice Mayor John Marchand of Livermore, who is representing Mayor Marshall Kamena.
Key among the projects where the Tri-Valley leaders say they need help is to re-start construction work on widening I-580 with carpool and toll lanes from Pleasanton out to Greenville Road in Livermore. The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, which has been lobbying aggressively on behalf of funding its I-580 Corridor Mobility project, considers the mayors' support essential in its effort to fund this and other transportation projects.
Other regional projects that need federal help include:
Completion of the East Bay Regional Communications System (EBRCS) to provide unified and coordinated emergency communications among police, fire hospital and other emergency response teams;
Funds for repairing and renovating as needed repossessed homes in foreclosure actions to make them available to lower income buyers;
McNerney said the funds he hopes to make available in his 11th Congressional District would be obtained from federal programs already under way. They would not be earmarks, monies sometimes made available to members of Congress for special projects. Incoming President-elect Barack Obama has made it clear that he opposes earmarks.
The mayors' missions have garnered the support of the entire congressional delegation for help in funding affordable housing projects in past visits and they are making the trip this week because they believe the time is right to let their California representatives in Washington to reinforce that support.
The mayors also will seek federal funding available through the Bureau of Reclamation or other agencies to develop a Recycled Water Master Plan to provide guidance to the region to better meet long-term water demands in a more reliable and sustainable manner. Some Tri-Valley water agencies use recycled water for non-potable uses such as landscape irrigation and emergency fire sprinkler systems, so developing a regional plan may help to further identify potential uses, projects, infrastructure development, and estimated costs.