Local Politics

Hagan, Raleigh council discuss stimulus funding

Posted April 8, 2009 6:06 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2009 7:55 p.m. EDT

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan

— U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan met with the Raleigh City Council Wednesday to discuss projects that could be funded with federal economic stimulus money, including a high-speed rail system.

"I want to be your very strong advocate in Washington," Hagan told council members.

North Carolina officials expect to receive about $6.1 billion from the stimulus package, and state officials have lined up another $1.5 billion in federal grants for infrastructure projects and benefits like tuition support and food stamps.

The Raleigh council voted Tuesday to apply for stimulus funds to pay for 11 projects that would improve Raleigh’s wastewater, drinking water and stormwater systems. Selected projects would be eligible for up to $3 million in no-interest loans or grants, and the city also would have to provide funds for the projects.

During their meeting with Hagan, council members pushed for stimulus funding for several projects, including the planned Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center downtown, improvements to low-income neighborhoods and a high-speed rail system running through Raleigh that would connect Charlotte and Washington.

"We need to be thinking not only long term but short term to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Hagan said, expressing support for the light-rail system.

Mayor Charles Meeker said the meeting was the first time in recent years that a U.S. senator has invited the full City Council to to discuss issues.

Hagan said she plans to meet with other elected officials over the next week as she tours the state.