As the $787 billion economic stimulus plan begins to take effect, many are left wondering how all that money will get from DC to their home towns. To help tackle that question, the City of Grand Junction has formed a team that will spend the coming weeks trying to answer it.
As Grand Junction continues to see the effects of the economic slowdown -- the city announcing this week that it was prepared to make $6 million in budget cuts -- officials say getting the local economy going is one of their top priorities, and federal stimulus dollars would help.
"If it affords us the ability to put those dollars to work in our community and possibly affords us the ability not to use additional taxpayer dollars to carry out some of those needs, that's where we see the benefit," said Rich Englehart, Grand Junction Deputy City Manager.
But they say that's only if they can figure out how to get those dollars.
"It's somewhat confusing," said Englehart. "However, we are starting to get our arms wrapped around some of the process."
The city has created a team of 12 people to go through the 1,073 page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see where it may qualify for some of those funds.
"We've divided those out and now we have people who are going through on a regular basis and monitoring them," said Englehart.
Team members say it looks like there are several areas where the city may be able to receive funds directly or through different grant processes.
"Transportation is certainly one," said Englehart. "Public safey -- there may be an opportunity for some grants here that we can access through the energy side. There's also infrastructure and housing."
But they say for now it's hard to say how much they'll receive or if they'll even qualify. That's because many stimulus grants have strings and other requirements attached to them, and the groups giving them out haven't finalized the criteria.
"It should be available by May," said Englehart. "We will have an idea of what's happening with the grant side of it."
Officials say team members meet once a week and are following up on the grants everyday -- so as soon as an opportunity presents itself, the city will be ready to jump on it quickly.
"It's a very proactive approach," said Englehart. "And it's going to afford us every opportunity we can to walk through the process."
City officials say under the stimulus plan, they will directly receive about $200,000 in development and public safety funding. They have not yet decided how they will spend that money.
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