Cities wait for stimulus dollars

June 23, 2009 3:41:23 PM PDT
Mayor Charles Meeker says the Capital City is eagerly awaiting $34 million in federal stimulus money for various projects including a new bus maintenance facility.Durham hopes to collect $15 million.

But the federal government has yet to cut the check.

"It hasn't been out over a 100 days. It's a large amount of dollars. There are rules that are being written, so that doesn't concern me right now," explained Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

While both mayors are confident the money to be sent directly from Washington for their cities will arrive, they are concerned the money for them that's being routed through the state government may not.

"Most of the money we receive comes directly from the federal agencies to us. Money that goes to the state tends to be spent on state programs," offered Mayor Meeker.

Another drawback - according to city leaders - is some stimulus dollars are competitive, meaning there's a chance Durham and Raleigh could lose out on federal funding.

"The competitive grants are a different story. You're competing with a lot of cities," said Bell.

Some big city mayors have complained small communities are getting more than their fair share of stimulus money. It adds up to a fight for funds.

"You've got to hear about the program. You've got to apply for it. You've got to be quick, so it's really something that requires a fair amount of attention," said Meeker.

And a fair amount of planning to ensure that every penny pays for President Obama's promise of new jobs.

"Not only do we want to talk about the progress, we want to make sure we make clear what types of jobs are being maintained. There's going to be a lot of transparency," said Bell.


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