Stories indexed with the term ‘federal economic stimulus’

AATA to Focus on Ypsi Cost Cuts

Ted Annis AATA Board member

AATA board members Ted Annis, left, and Charles Griffith. (Photo by the writer.)

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (August 19, 2009): Looming on a six-week horizon for Ypsilanti is the renewal of its Purchase of Service Agreement with the AATA – at a price slated for 10% higher each year over the next three years to make the agreement match actual costs. That’s the context in which three out of seven Ypsilanti city councilmembers appeared at the AATA board meeting on Wednesday.

Their collective message: Recognize the fiscal constraints on Ypsilanti, focus on the 30 years of a positive AATA-Ypsilanti partnership, and find ways to cut costs of the service without cutting service levels. Their message resonated with AATA board members, who seemed more inclined to find creative ways to cut costs than to use federal stimulus dollars to simply make up the gap. Part of that creative approach could include closing the Ypsilanti Transit Station.

The longer-term solution of supporting the AATA bus service through a dedicated countywide funding source was a theme that ran through the comments made by Ypsilanti councilmembers, as well as others at the meeting.

In other business, the board approved the construction contract for the Plymouth Road and US-23 park-and-ride, and formally discontinued the LINK service – a decision that came as no surprise given that the other two funding partners – the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – had discontinued their funding for the downtown circulator bus. [Full Story]

Washtenaw Commissioners Discuss Cuts

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners administrative briefing (May 13, 2009): Commissioners attending Wednesday’s meeting were briefed on several items coming up on their May 20 agenda, including some related to Head Start funding, community development and approval of the county’s operating millage, which will remain unchanged from the current year. But for much of the hour-long briefing, they discussed a resolution proposing cuts to the $600,000 allotted annually for commissioners  – a resolution that stands a good chance of being amended, tabled or withdrawn from the agenda completely. [Full Story]

“Obama Bucks” Boost Eastern Washtenaw

Layers of history are preserved on the wall of Spark East in downtown Ypsilanti.

Layers of history are preserved on the wall of SPARK East in downtown Ypsilanti.

On Friday, May 8, the renovated Ypsilanti storefront that houses SPARK East will be open to the public for a look at the business services offered there. The event is part of a larger economic development effort on Washtenaw County’s east side, an effort that’s getting a boost from federal stimulus funding – or what one county official called “Obama bucks.”

Last Thursday, about 40 members of the Eastern Leaders Group got an overview of the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Rapid Response Strategy Business Plan, which had been approved by the ELG executive committee in mid-April. Held at the brick-walled SPARK East office on Michigan Avenue, the meeting covered a lot of ground, from neighborhood revitalization efforts to a plan for microloans to businesses.

The Chronicle dropped by to hear about the plan too. Though the meeting was decidedly forward looking, there was an element of history at SPARK East as well – more on that later. We’ll start with a look at the three main topics covered on Thursday: 1) business development and employee training, 2) microloan programs, and 3) community revitalization and stabilization plans. [Full Story]

County Gets Stimulus Funds for Worker Aid

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Administrative Briefing (April 8, 2009): Hefty funding from the federal stimulus package means as many as 1,000 local youth will get summer jobs and hundreds of adults will get job training and employment services, county commissioners were told at their Wednesday administrative briefing. Of the $3.6 million awarded to Washtenaw County, $1.95 million will be used to fund jobs for low-income youth between the ages of 14 to 24. The county now needs to find employers with suitable job openings, said Verna McDaniel, deputy county administrator.

Commissioners also discussed their plan for this Saturday’s retreat, which will focus on setting budget priorities. [Full Story]

County Gets $4.1 Million Weatherization Grant

Washtenaw County’s weatherization program, which typically serves about 100 homes annually out of a $350,000 budget, is getting $4.1 million over the next 18 months from the 2009 federal stimulus package. That amount will allow the program to weatherize 600 homes – and lower utility bills – for low- to moderate-income families during that period.

To ramp up for this influx of federal funding, the program will be hiring staff for the duration of the grant, which runs from April 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010. Aaron Kraft, program coordinator, said there are two full-time employees now (including him), plus a private contractor who does inspections. Kraft expects they’ll need seven full-time staff in the office to handle outreach and applications, four more inspectors and double the number of general contractors that they use to work on these projects.

In addition to the increased number of houses they’ll be able to serve, the amount that can be spent per house has roughly doubled, Kraft said. Not including administrative costs, about $4,500 will be available for each home. The program covers houses, mobile homes, townhomes and condominiums, but not usually apartments in large complexes, Kraft said. [Full Story]

It’s All About The Money

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners (March 4, 2009): County commissioners spent the bulk of their Wednesday night board meeting on two topics, both dealing with finances: 1) Details about $3 million in federal funds coming to Washtenaw County to rehab or demolish foreclosed properties in targeted areas, and 2) an update from county administrator Bob Guenzel about ongoing efforts to deal with a projected budget deficit.

Neither topic is new to commissioners or Chronicle readers: The federal foreclosure funds were discussed at last week’s administrative briefing, and the budget crisis has been on the table since the board’s Feb. 4 meeting. So commissioners were prepared to ask pointed questions on both issues, and they did. [Full Story]