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City establishes Web page to track stimulus projects

Monday, April 6, 2009 | 6:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — One question on everyone’s minds these days: Where is all the stimulus money going?

Recently, the city of Columbia launched a new part of its Web site that lists local projects funded by federal stimulus grants. Citizens will be able to read about stimulus projects as the local government applies for them, announcements of new awards and reports on how branches of the local government are using the money.

On the Web

To visit the Web site that tracks projects for which the city is seeking federal stimulus money, go to www.gocolumbiamo.com. On the right side of the home page, click the link called "Transparency in Local Government."



Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins said one reason for creating the Web site is to keep the public informed about how stimulus money is being used.

“(There were a number of) staff here that felt it would be valuable to the public, Columbia at large and also the media to keep track of how the stimulus dollars are being awarded and how we apply for them,” Hopkins said.

A spreadsheet on the Web site lists five proposed projects that have already been awarded stimulus grants: sidewalk improvements, a COLT railroad bridge over U.S. 63, the extension of Stadium Boulevard, law enforcement equipment and programs, and energy efficiency and conservation projects. So far, the city has received a total of $14.3 million in awards.

Only two of the seven city projects have received the full amount the city requested. Projects for a wastewater treatment plant improvement and the Clear Creek pump station and for water main improvement have yet to receive money. So far, the city has asked for a total of $84.12 million.

“The Web site is a good way to coordinate and process all the different departments going through the applications process,” Hopkins said.

Toni Messina, director of public communications for Columbia, said the site will be a good way to monitor the effect of stimulus grants on the local economy. The site will be maintained by designated people within city government departments that are eligible to apply for money, such as Water and Light, Parks and Recreation, Public Works and the city manager's office. When changes are made to the city’s internal Intranet, its Internet Web site will automatically update as well.

“As the money changes hands — federal to state to local — I think people will be very interested to know how the influx of cash is affecting the local economy,” Messina said.

The Missouri Economic Stimulus Coordination Council's Feb. 27 report to Gov. Jay Nixon estimated Missouri could receive as much as $6 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, plus tax benefits for individuals and businesses, according to the city Web site.

Such high-dollar awards create the need for more project accountability, which the Web site provides not only on a local and state level. Federal projects also will be listed soon.


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Comments

Charles Dudley Jr April 6, 2009 | 9:18 p.m.

If City Council buys more lands for Parks or Park Improvements with any of the Stimulus Money they should all be tossed out of office on their ear.

We need our streets fixed,Police Officers increased as well as their training,tactics and equipment needs.

We need more EMS personnel and long over due equipment replacements.

We need more programs for at risk and troubled youth to help curb the ongoing issues these young people must face.

Last dam thing we need is anymore Parks built,land purchased or anything related to Parks or Bike Trails for that matter.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 6, 2009 | 9:34 p.m.

Yes, let's throw even more money at at-risk and troubled youth. Just look at the results thus far. They're as impressive as the $15K+ spent at one school to do something that only the students can do: straighten up and take responsibility.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 6, 2009 | 11:03 p.m.

Ayn:
Thanks for coming up with the solution.
[...straighten up and take responsibility.]
Why you just single-handedly took jobs away from every youth worker, school teacher, guidance counselor, social worker, child psychologist, juvenile corrections officer, school resource officer, and parent in the world...And I thought my dad had already accomplished that when he said the very same thing....a very long time ago.....

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 7, 2009 | 4:35 a.m.

Ayn Rand ya lets follow your selfish lead in this and neglect the at risk and troubled children in our community so they can go and learn the harder realities of life and the streets even more.

I hope you are willing to pump more of your tax dollars into a much larger police force too being with out those needed programs you will have more youth growing up to cause more trouble on our already troubled streets and neighborhoods.

Which is the worse of the two evils? Trying to curb crime at an early age or spending that money later by building more prisons?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 7, 2009 | 7:19 a.m.

Charles, if you believe that these programs aren't getting enough money, why don't you dip into YOUR pocket and help them out? At the very least, you should be volunteering for these programs? Don't be selfish. Put YOUR money where your mouth is.

Why do you believe that money is the cure? In other posts, I've argued that there are things that only parents and/or children can do, and you agreed with me.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 7, 2009 | 10:19 a.m.

Ayn Rand that money goes to further develop those programs and to provide safe places those at risk young people can go to instead of the alley ways and drug houses.

How about you let them come to your house since you do not want to pay your taxes to support it. Then you can feel you are doing your part to further their education and welfare.

You are a nothing but a one trick pony.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 7, 2009 | 1:21 p.m.

You mean like more improvements at Douglass Park?

Why not invite at-risk youths to attend the Paquin activities?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 7, 2009 | 1:36 p.m.

Ayn, with the way Chuck rants at times, attending events at Paquin could put one at-risk perhaps. I inadvertently skipped the train show there that I've taken the kids to a couple times, but may have made the right decision unknowingly!

(Report Comment)

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