Here’s a question: How much federal stimulus money is being spent in Upstate NY or in Oswego County?
We know that federal economic stimulus funds are paying for road repairs on Route 104 and a bridge project in the Mexico area. We know that Richland is getting $11.9 million to set up a new water district, Hastings is getting $3 million and Volney is getting about $2 million. We know that school districts in the county got a lot of money last year to prevent teacher layoffs and will receive approximately $2.4 million this year.
We’ve learned these things in a rather haphazard fashion — a press release here, a mention at a school board meeting there, a few official details.
There’s no one-stop source for finding what’s being spent and where it’s being spent. Even state and federal lawmakers aren’t sure.
Which leads to the inevitable question: Is Oswego County getting its fair share?
Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski pressed that question last week during the roundtable discussion on the economy with US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in Fulton.
‘Our problem is trying to find out” what’s being allocated to projects in the county, he said. He suspects Oswego County is getting the short end of the stick, but no one can say for sure.
Gillibrand explained that stimulus spending is still just ramping up. About 10% of the stimulus funds has been spent and only a third of stimulus funds has even been allocated to specific projects.
Oswego County may have suffered in the stimulus process, she said, if it had a lack of “shovel-ready” projects. She means that stimulus funds were intended to go to projects that could employ people now, in order to keep people working during the economic crisis. Projects that would require some study or some other long process to get going would be less likely to get stimulus funds.
“It costs more to be ‘shovel-ready’,” she said, and hard-hit Upstate counties may not have had the money to invest in projects to get them ready for stimulus investment.
But no one knows for sure where all the money’s going, and why some projects get funding and others do not.
“It’s very hard to track why,” said Barclay, who asked Gillibrand to have her office keep close track of stimulus spending “to make sure our fair share comes here.”