Nov 06, 2007

Rhea Needs $75 Million in Infrastructure

A continuing inventory of the infrastructure needs of Rhea County, compiled by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, says that the county needs $74.9 million for public infrastructure improvements to be in some stage of development by 2009, an increase of $33 million since last year’s report.

While the report states that statewide the top three areas of need are transportation, public schools and water and wastewater treatment infrastructure, the top three areas of need in Rhea County are transportation, waste and wastewater treatment, and law enforcement.

The inventory is based on interviews and surveys conducted by the Southeast Tennessee Development District in March 2006.

The inventory says the county needs $50.7 million for transportation infrastructure improvements, $10.6 million for water and wastewater treatment, and $5.1 million for law enforcement.

“The $10.6 million for water and wastewater treatment sound pretty accurate,” Dayton City Manager Frank Welch said. “It’s a figure that’s in the ballpark of the cost of a new water treatment plant, but $12 million to $15 million is probably a more realistic figure.”

The $5.1 million in law enforcement needs reflects the conceptual plan to build a new justice center for Rhea County. The cost of the center has been estimated to be $5 million.

The inventory includes a need for $1.5 million for new water lines for currently unserved, unincorporated areas of the county, and suggests that action should be taken this year if the funding can be found.

Excluding those needs from the total leaves $23.2 billion in needs. The reports states that local officials are confident of the source of funding for only $9 billion of that amount.

“It should concern us all that local officials across the state are only confident of less than half of the funds necessary to meet the needs they have identified,” said Dr. Harry Green, TACIR’s executive director.