Thursday, July 29, 2010

Solano County has $151M in stimulus funding, but how much help will it be?

Solano County has $151M in funding, but how much help will it be?

By Melissa Murphy / The Reporter

Posted: 07/29/2010 01:01:54 AM PDT

Solano County has its hands on a significant chunk of change, reaching into multimillion-dollar range -- the federal government's answer to economic stimulus.

Since the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed in February last year, Solano County has received $151,276,711.

California received $41.7 billion during the same time frame, while the United States as a whole received more than $355.8 billion.

"There are years of work put into making sure we're able to compete for that money," said Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan.

Solano County's total includes the amount cities were allotted in federal stimulus money. The money is divided between specific categories such as transportation, education, agriculture, health and human services, and veteran affairs.

As a whole, Solano County received $34.6 million for transportation alone.

The city of Vacaville received more than $4 million of that money for its transportation needs, which includes $2.2 million for 30 passenger transit buses to replace aging diesel fleet transit buses with new buses that run on compressed natural gas and another $115,330 in federal transit formula grants to purchase electronic fare boxes for fixed route bus fleet vehicles.

"In the tight economy, it's difficult to do any upgrade of anything," said Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine. "It's nice as you get the money, but if you think about it, it's only filling in where other money was taken away."

He said that Vacaville has benefited from the stimulus money is several areas, but looking at the big picture the state has taken away thousands of jobs, which haven't been created again with the stimulus promises.

"Sure they provide the money, but where is that money coming from?"
Augustine said.

The Solano County superintendent of schools department received more than
$11 million in stimulus money, including $8.5 million allocated by the state to provide special education and related services to children with disabilities.

Although Solano County, with a population of 407,515, has been able to snag millions of dollars from the government, surrounding counties are faring much better because of their size. Yolo received $219.6 million, Contra Costa received $342 million and Sacramento County received $17 billion.

Still, Reagan believes that the stimulus money only goes so far and doesn't do what the federal government wanted.

"It's not doing anything to stimulate the economy," he said, adding that the money borrowed from taxpayers doesn't have long-term solutions. "There is an underlying problem in that it does nothing to stimulate the economy of the private sector."

Reagan explained that the painful reality is that the stimulus money has been heavily used to keep things going and to postpone layoffs.

"But that's exactly what will happen when the money goes away," he said.
"Those cuts will still have to be made."

Travis Air Force Base receives funding for modernizing facilities

Published by The Reporter

Posted: 07/29/2010 01:01:50 AM PDT

Travis Air Force Base will receive $387,000 for the construction of new Base Civil Engineer maintenance and supply facilities under a resolution approved Wednesday by the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman John Garamendi, D-Solano, a member of the committee, and Congressman George Miller, D-Solano, chair of the Democratic Policy Committee, announced the funding approval in a press release Wednesday. The funding comes following passage of H.R. 5822, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

The new Base Civil Engineer maintenance and supply facilities will allow 270 Travis Air Force Base personnel to accomplish their work in a more secure and efficient manner, the congressmen said. With leaky roofs, cracked foundations and degraded exteriors and parking surfaces, these facilities are presently not energy efficient and do not meet modern facility or seismic codes, they added.

"This is a great step forward for Travis employees. These funds will start the process of modernizing Travis' facilities to improve efficiency and safety while creating jobs," Miller said.

"Solano County's largest employer has too many buildings in need of modernization. This funding will put area residents back to work, reduce Travis' burden on the energy grid, and make sure our brave men and women in uniform have the facilities they need to do their jobs," Garamendi said.

Fairfield's Army Reserve Center also will receive $26 million for needed improvements and services for Army Reserve units.