Mayors from around the state say they are in desperate need of the infusion of federal stimulus money in order to adequately provide services and take care of important infrastructure projects for their municipalities during the economic downturn. Anderson’s Terence Roberts is one of 52 state mayors who signed a letter sent to Governor Mark Sanford and members of the General Assembly urging acceptance of the federal stimulus cash. Roberts says he agrees that cities should be tightening their belts along with everyone else during these lean economic times, however, Anderson says cities in the state have dealt with cuts in state allotted funds well before the current recession. “I feel as if the cities in South Carolina do to a number of different things over the last several years that have been enacted by Columbia legislators,” he said. “We have been tightening our belts for along time due to not receiving funds that have been cut back from basic services.”
Roberts says municipalities in the state are concerned with local aid to subdivision funds that are currently being considered for a 42 percent cut.
The stimulus funds can be used for a number of needs including upgrades in law enforcement equipment. Roberts said, “we’re applying for some of the stimulus money to replace bullet proof vests, for example. We’ve got some that have come close to the end of the their life cycle.”
He went on to say that Anderson has enjoyed sustained growth over the past decade but infrastructure projects have not kept pace. “We currently in our city should be on a 23 year cycle as far as road repavements are concerned,” according to Roberts. “But due to a lack of money to do that, we’re currently on a 73 year cycle to repave roads.”
Roberts says he is expecting good news from the Transportation Commission concerning an important shovel ready road project the city desperately needs to handle increasing traffic flow. “It’s an east-west connector. It’s a three mile, three lane road that stretches from one of our main business corridors, Clemson Boulevard, to another growing corridor Greenville Street, Highway 81. It’s a $20 million project and all the ‘right of ways’ are done,” said Roberts.
He says the connector project had the green light in 1996, but then funds for road construction in the state dried up at the time.