Recovery: April 13, 2009 Minutes

CT Recovery Working Group
April 13, 2009 2:00 PM
State Capitol Old Judiciary Room
Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 2:00 PM

Committee Members:
 

Joan McDonald, Commissioner Department of Economic & Comm. Development
Joseph Marie, Commissioner (absent) Department of Transportation
Raeanne Curtis, Commissioner Department of Public Works
Graham Stevens (absent) Department of Environmental Protection
Patricia Mayfield, Commissioner (absent) Department of Labor
Michael Cicchetti, Deputy Secretary (absent) Office of Policy & Management
Mary Ann Hanley, Director Office of Workforce Competititveness
Jeffrey Parker, Deputy Commissioner (absent) Department of Transportation
David O’Hearn, Deputy Commissioner Department of Public Works
Peter Simmons Department of Economic & Comm. Development
Mary Anne O’Neill Office of the Governor
Lisa Moody (absent) Office of the Governor
Matthew Fritz Office of the Governor
Donald DeFronzo, State Senator General Assembly – Senate Democrats
Carlo Leone, State Representative General Assembly – House Democrats
Paul Pimentel General Assembly – Senate Republicans
James Finley, Exec. Director/CEO CT Conference of Municipalities
Bart Russell, Exec. Director (absent) CT Council of Small Towns
Donald Shubert, President CT Construction Industries Association
John Olsen CT Employment and Training Commission
George Gallo General Assembly – House Republicans



Introductory Remarks – Matt Fritz, Governor’s Office
Materials located in the back of the room for meeting attendees include agenda, minutes from last meeting, a list of regional draft projects, and a list of potential projects for discretionary funds.
Minutes questions or comments? None were brought forward.

Update on Committee Work:

Mary Anne O’Neil, Governor’s Office, presented the following:
Since the 3/23/09 meeting, Matt has posted the stimulus funding update on web. CT has spent over 17 million on Unemployment benefits; We’ve submitted numerous grant applications for items such as weatherization; arts; energy; clean diesel; justice assistance grants; coastal habitat project, dams and fish passages; protecting children.
Currently there is House bill proposing extending COBRA to those who did not initially choose it; they can pay 35% of the cost for this, rather than 100% as before the ARRA funding. There is also a proposal for Unemployment Compensation to be available to people voluntarily leaving employment to follow a transferred spouse out of commuting distance. Both are waiting for legislative passage.
There is an energy bill grant proposal, and one to exempt benefits received under stimulus from counting against other programs; There are grants and loans for state drinking water; and one for expediting state permits – all in General Assembly for consideration.


Department of Transportation gave the following update on ARRA Projects:
Charles Barone from CT Department of Transportation

Metropolitan Planning Organizations around CT met and coordinated with DOT to draft a list of priority projects. (These were available to view in a handout.) DOT is working to vet these; 15 groups met with DOT; now DOT is vetting for Title 23 requirements;
The process is that the money is reimbursable, i.e. towns do the work and then get reimbursed monthly. This is a Federal requirement; The town or community submits a paid invoice to DOT. DOT will reimburse the town, and the Federal Government will reimburse CT.

There is Urban Program money going to MPOs. These projects must qualify as an urban and eligible area. Example: Roads in a subdevelopment may not be on the approved ‘urban’ system;

For projects, there is a qualified selection process which must be followed. Items include:
• using inspectors
• affirmative action requirements
• disadvantaged business set asides
• designs must meet specs; these will be vetted by DOT
• There must be a public involvement process
• Environmental process must be reviewed and met
DOT will review costs and ensure that projects meet federal requirements above, ensuring that projects incorporate everything needed in the estimate. If a proper cost exceeds the estimate, this may impact the original project list. It may mean fewer or different projects will be approved.

Additional requirements include advertising, bidding, and award processes, which must be followed, as well as record keeping, and reporting requirements.

How long does the vetting process by DOT take? DOT engineering says it is a minimum of 3 days, depending on project complexity. There are 80 projects to evaluate. Remember that the regional projects have more time to complete than the state ones, per the ARRA rules – up to one year; however DOT is confident that these can be started in a timely manner.

The process also includes making sure the project is on STIP and TIP lists. Then a 1511 certification form must be signed by official and passed to the Gov’s office; it is posted on website and then CT applies for federal money.

When will we see action? As long as there are no problems with above process, it’s fast. However, what happens is that projects may not have been estimated or evaluated completely. For example, a simple resurfacing may be more complex, like a drain problem; nonetheless, we expect 1/3 to half of all projects will be underway by the summer construction season.

Rural and Urban: The MPOs got federal money to distribute; $4 million is marked for rural and must be spent there. For towns in rural areas, this is their opportunity to pick projects; DOT met twice with the 4 rural areas and they will have their projects in this week;

Question: 3 days is for DOT review only?
Answer: Yes, then contracting begins; DOT is looking at expediting the contracting process. Towns have to advertise, get bids and award the projects.

Question: Did DOT prioritize Projects or MPOs.
DOT is helping but yes, MPOs must prioritize. DOT is evaluating in case some are under-budgeted.

DOT has advertised 5 projects – bid opening date occurred; 1st one tentatively May; Projects are
• Rt 5 bridge rehab Enfield
• Rt 89 superstructure Ashford
• Merrit Pkway Trumbull/ Fairfield
• Traffic Control signals statewide
• Traffic Signals District 4

Good news is these are all under the engineers estimates by several thousand dollars.

Available on paper in the room, or online at recovery.gov are list of projects the DOT is considering to submit for discretionary funds: ports, airport, roads. Full requirements for applications have not come out yet. It is expected to be highly competitive nationally. The Secretary of US DOT will select. This is a tentative only, but CT DOT is working on it so that when guidance comes out, we’re in a position to apply. (Preliminary list of projects for discretionary funding) (PDF File, 80KB)

Question: Where does the 6 billion fit in?
Answer: Ideas or projects beyond these should be submitted. There is a main list on the website; projects discussed today, and that are in process, are transportation related only. Some of the other projects we received don’t impact statewide so they aren’t on this draft ; CT wants to put together the best applications for anything we can.
Question: Can we ask the MPOS what projects they might have that didn’t get on their original lists to perhaps apply for discretionary funds?
Answer: Yes, share with DOT or Governor’s office, again so that we can get as much funding as possible.

Closing Remarks
Matt Fritz, Governor’s Office

Please share ideas with DOT to expedite this or assist with bid packages or assessments.

Because the Legislature is in session and due to the demands of the current stimulus funding project priorities, we will let you know when and where the next meeting will be.

Question: Broadband?
Different programs within USDA consider different things rural – we will consider everything rural until we hear otherwise; Broadband Council met with Matt and we’re trying to collaborate on this. More info will be forthcoming as soon as we know it; no deadline has been set; Our first goal is mapping where broadband is i.e. where are the unserved and underserved areas, to lay out parameters;

Question: Update on the Energy programs?
State energy program filed its preliminary application for $38.5 million. State also receiving $24 million through Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants – most of the funds went directly to the larger towns and OPM is working on a process for distributing the remaining $9.4 million.

Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM.
 





Content Last Modified on 4/14/2009 2:03:40 PM