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Gainesville gets $2 million stimulus
City police, utility agency will benefit
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In-car laptop computers such as this are one of the items that will be purchased with federal stimulus money received by the Gainesville Police Department. - photo by Tom Reed

Stimulus funding is coming to Gainesville.

Both the city’s police department and Public Utilities Department plan to reap the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the tune of more than $2 million, department officials told the City Council on Thursday.

The city’s police department received a grant of nearly $105,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Police Chief Frank Hooper.

The department plans to spend the money on new laptops for patrol cars, Taser guns and patrol rifles. Hooper said he is applying for more stimulus funding to pay for new video software for the agency’s patrol cars.

For law enforcement agencies like Gainesville’s, the federal stimulus funding has arrived in the form of grants that ceased years ago.

"A few years back we used to get them every year," Hooper said. "And these burn grants, they dried up about three years ago; the money hasn’t been there."

Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department received its share of the stimulus package in the form of a $3.5 million low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

Thanks to stimulus funds, $2.1 million of the principle on the loan will be forgiven, according to Assistant Public Utilities Director Tim Collins.

The department plans to use the money to continue its meter replacement project, installing radio-read meters across the city. It will also help the department create a "fixed-base" meter reading system for water meters in downtown Gainesville, Collins said. The fixed-base system will allow the department to read the downtown meters from the utilities office on Queen City Parkway, Collins said.

Collins and Hooper’s announcement to the council came on the same day some of Georgia’s top officials were expected to meet to discuss the impact the federal economic stimulus package is having on the state.

Officials from the state labor and education departments were to speak at a committee hearing Thursday at the Statehouse.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown, a Macon Democrat, called the hearing to try to get a better handle on the effect of the state’s share of the $787 billion stimulus package.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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