Which comes first?
ARRA includes several restrictions on how the stimulus money may be used, primarily requiring that it fund projects that will quickly provide jobs in areas where they are needed. Despite some controversy over the first ARRA-funded projects, state officials say they are taking steps to meet those standards.
When Missouri kicked off the first ARRA-financed infrastructure projects in the country in February, the state’s Department of Transportation came under fire from critics, including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, for the projects’ locations, which Slay said were not in “economically distressed areas” as required by ARRA. “I do believe that ARRA’s economic distress priority must be honored, and that it is [the Missouri Department of Transportation] MoDOT’s job to figure out how to do so,” Slay said in a statement.
However, there may be other factors to consider when distributing ARRA money for transportation projects, says Peter King, executive director for the Washington-based American Public Works Association. “In a metropolitan planning organization, they would have had priority lists already in place, so it’s logical that those [projects] that had been previously determined to be the highest priority be funded if they fall within the parameters of the stimulus money,” King says. (See a complete interview with King on www.americancityandcounty.com.)
In announcing their choice of ARRA-funded projects, state officials have emphasized the effort they have made to ensure taxpayers see the greatest return on their investment. Georgia Transportation Board Chairman Bill Kuhlke said state officials there had been “methodical, meticulous and totally transparent in the selection of projects. We are using established, quantifiable criteria to carefully evaluate and prioritize [projects,]” he said in a statement. “We will maximize job creation, and at the same time, focus on ‘most-needed’ work.”
RESTRICTIONS FOR USING ARRA FUNDS
- PROJECTS MUST BEGIN IMMEDIATELY
- PROHIBITED USES: ZOOS, AQUARIUMS, GOLF COURSES, SWIMMING POOLS AND CASINOS
- FEDERAL PREVAILING WAGE RATE APPLIES TO CONTRACTS
- BUY AMERICA PROVISIONS PREVAIL BUT CAN BE WAIVED BY FEDERAL AGENCIES
Source: National League of Cities