I am not a big fan of federal government spending. There are few times when I think that the government can do a more effective job of spending than my local municipalities where they are far more accessible to my influence. However, the current economy definitely needs a kick-in-the-butt and so I supported the stimulus bill (now called “Economic Stimulus Package Act of 2008“) if it really is going to be used for getting things done on a local level.
I wrote about this back in February in my article “38 ways to fill the stimulus bill with pork and save our economy“. I still question that the stimulus is being adequately implemented but an article in the Sunday edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer gives me some hope. This is exactly what we should do as a stimulus – create hundreds of small projects that will get people in the local communities working. I only hope that most of the jobs the article cites were contractors as opposed to government workers. As contractors, this will insure that these entrepreneurs stay in business and can augment this public money with some private sector jobs and keep these workers on their payroll.
Perhaps more of this money should be doled out to the local municipalities instead funding TARP.
In keeping with my tradition, I am not reprinting the article in its entirety. Please click through and read the entire story but here is the beginning discussion.
The sidewalks on Mandarin Court in Forest Park are set to be replaced using federal stimulus money.
Stimulus benefits big – and small
President Obama may have been thinking big with his $787 billion stimulus package, but his counterparts in local government are thinking decidedly small.
As local cities and counties put together their applications for some of their first tastes of stimulus money, they’ve come up with block grant applications where the typical project costs less than $250,000.
The city of Covington, for example, has broken down its line items as small as $1,650 each – to replace 117 curb ramps in the neighborhood around Decoursey and Winston avenues, to make them handicapped-accessible. Cincinnati is giving out grants as small as $8,556 for a program to prevent teen pregnancy and violence.
The list of local applications for the Community Development Block Grants also includes $61,200 for sidewalks in Forest Park, $93,000 for air conditioners in Sharonville and $56,008 for playground renovations in Hamilton.
In Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights, taxpayers will spend $100,000 to resurface one-seventh of a mile of Prairie Avenue, and install curbs for 20 houses along the way – a project that Rev. Jesse O’Conner hopes will stop the flooding in his basement.
Without curbs or gutters, rainwater comes down the street and settles on his property. He’s even had precast concrete parking blocks installed in place of curbs in an effort to prevent floods like the one that put eight inches of water in his basement last week.
“We need to get people working again, spending money,” said O’Conner, a General Electric retiree who’s lived on the street since 1954. “It needs to be spent, not put in the bank somewhere.”
Those projects may sound like small potatoes in the context of a spending plan usually measured in the millions, billions and even trillions. But local officials say it’s important that smaller communities aren’t forgotten in the effort to pump federal taxpayer money into the economy.
“So far, everything coming out of the stimulus has been mega-projects that only big communities get,” said Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper. “We heard a lot of discussion from smaller communities who said, ‘What about us?'”
Local governments in the region have been allocated more than $5.3 million in additional community development block grants, Applications for specific projects were due Friday, and governments are guaranteed to receive the funds as long as they meet federal criteria.
They hope to get some of that money in time for summer construction, though it may come as late as Sept. 30.