” A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”– attributed to IL Sen. E.M. Dirksen.
Gov. Quinn has this site set up as a clearinghouse of info on The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The clock is running, and if funds are not designated and used in 90 to 180 days the money moves on to other states. That could leave us here in DG in good shape.
Council in two weeks will either get the paperwork to hire, or hire Timothy Dart and John Nicolay of Nicolay & Dart, LLC, offices at 33 N. Dearborn Street, Suite 2000, Chicago Il 60602 to assist in the effort to get access to the decision makers. This is the same lobby group that was hired to help get money for the Belmont Underpass. Last March council approved spending $36,000 on them in an attempt to secure the final $8.5 million for the BU (the rest was already committed), this year council is contemplating the same expenditure, $36K, to push for ARRA money.
The goal is to get some of the ARRA money as soon as it hits the state. Now, right now, DG is ready to go with projects that can be done in 180 days, not just started. Like with the BU, it’s a crap shoot whether or not lobbyists will help, but by now there’s a lot of noise being made by every municipality. There is a deadline, and we have projects with technical and admin paperwork all ready to go, so trying to get some extra attention may be a worthwhile gamble. When you look at the list of registered lobbyists in Illinois, fewer than 60 out of Illinois 1100+ cities and villages have lobbyists, so it may not even be occurring to many other municpalities to do it.
There’s about $8.8 billion in recovery act money earmarked for Illinois. There’s roughly $3 billion for Medicaid in Illinois (the state is $2 billion in arrears to doctors, nursing homes and such), about $1.7 billion as a stabilization fund for school districts (anyone from 58?), colleges and universities, and $1.5 billion for transportation. IDOT has about $700 million of that already slotted into projects, mainly for Cook County (surprise!), but also including an Ogden Avenue resurfacing project from I-355 on the west end to Warwick Avenue (just past Cass) in Westmont on the east end, over 4 miles.
Forgive my math if I’m off by several billion; the numbers are stoopid big. All told, it looks like there’s close to $900 million dollars remaining for the taking. Given that Chicago will get the lion’s share, even if they take 75% of that, there’s still a big pile of money for the projects that can go now.
There’s a big boost in DG being able to say we’ve already done the legwork and planning and engineering and here’s the engineering and here’s a detailed breakout of costs and timetables for completion-as opposed to (I forget who said this, maybe Sandack) hey we’d like to build another school over here.
And we do. We spent some serious money the last two years laying the groundwork for comprehensive street and water infrastructure upgrades, and stormwater mitigation projects. With a Belmont Underpass type full court press, with the lobbyists, maybe we can shake loose some major funding for the CIPS projects we have ready and waiting.
There’s a price that will be paid for all this ARRA and record appropriation spending, and it’s the nexus of a growing fight between the party in power, and the party out of power. But this bill is a done deal, and I try and stay local here. The money will go somewhere, so we might as well try and make as much of it as possible go here to DG.
“As I think of this bill, and the fact that the more progress we make the deeper we go into the hole, I am reminded of a group of men who were working on a street. They had dug quite a number of holes. When they got through, they failed to puddle or tamp the earth when it was returned to the hole, and they had a nice little mound, which was quite a traffic hazard.
“Not knowing what to do with it, they sat down on the curb and had a conference. After a while, one of the fellows snapped his fingers and said, ‘I have it. I know how we will get rid of that overriding earth and remove the hazard. We will just dig the hole deeper.'” [Congressional Record, June 16, 1965, p. 13884].