Federal stimulus funds aimed at helping to lift the United States out of its dollar doldrums will help float two major local projects.
Carbon County commissioners on Thursday announced they would funnel federal economic recovery money in the form of bonds to help offset the costs of a $10 million sewer project in Palmerton and a proposed water park at Blue Mountain Ski Area.
There are two types of bonds, said Commissioners Chairman William O'Gurek.
"One is facility bonds and one is economic development bonds. The difference between them is 'for use publicly' versus 'for use privately'," he said.
Each county has a designated dollar amount of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (federal stimulus) money to be used via bonds, O'Gurek said.
In Palmerton's case, economic development bonds will be issued.
"How this helps them is providing a subsidy from the United States Treasury to help with the interest payments in the amount of 45 percent. That's predetermined by the stimulus bill," O'Gurek said.
"What it means to Palmerton over the course of a 30-year bond issue is approximately $400,000 in relief," he said.
In Blue Mountain Ski Area's case, facility bonds will be issued.
The Lower Towamensing Township business' plan for the multimillion-dollar four-season resort project.
"The owners of that facility will be borrowing a lot of money … so this will be an opportunity for Blue Mountain to take advantage of the facility bonds that are part of the stimulus package," he said.
The facility bonds allow the interest on the loans to be tax-exempt, O'Gurek said.
"How that impacts them, we don't know yet," he said. "We don't quite know (how much Blue Mountain will borrow), but we know they are going to spend a lot of money. They are going to create a thousand seasonal jobs. It's going to be a great shot in the arm to the economy of Carbon County."
O'Gurek said the federal recovery legislation is a boost to the nation's economy.
"People complain about this economic stimulus bill … but this is going back into the communities," he said. In Carbon County, he said, people can see the recovery act money at work paving roads and creating jobs.
"The intent of that act was to get people working again, spend money on the economy and to help our communities," he said. "I think it's successful."