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Communities hope projects make stimulus list

Just like children do during the holiday season, local communities have put together their wish lists only this time the federal government is playing Santa.
The wish list was compiled by the Mid-America Regional Council and presented to representatives from the offices of congressional leaders from Missouri and Kansas this morning in Kansas City.
MARC requested the list last month when members of congress and President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team began discussing a possible stimulus plan that could include billions of dollars for transportation and public works projects.
Some numbers tossed around suggest that a plan could include anywhere from $300 to $800 billion for projects.
Communities in Ray County alone are asking for more than $26 million in projects. Richmond is asking for half of the amount for projects.
City Administrator Rick Childers has told members of the council that up to a billion dollars could be made available statewide for smaller communities like Richmond. Nobody knows what the final legislation will look like but Childers said any projects that can be ready to go should be submitted. He said the worse thing that can happen is the city gets told no.
“Who knows what it will actually end up being,” Childers said. “If we have something we already have plans for this would be perfect.”
The city of Hardin submitted projects that could exceed $1.5 million. Projects are available for viewing on MARC’s Web site where the public can comment. The projects Hardin submitted include street, water and sewer replacements for the entire city.
With the city’s submission it commented, “Our streets have not been repaired or resurfaced in over 30 years. They were destroyed further in the ‘93 floods. We are in desperate need of resurfacing.”
The city of Henrietta submitted a list similar to Hardin’s that would total about $3.3 million. Also included would be the paving of the city’s community center parking lot.
Lawson is asking for more than $4 million and the city of Wood Heights is asking for $3.6 million.
Among projects submitted by Richmond include a $6 million South Sewer Plant expansion. The city will hear proposals from three separate engineering firms later this month for the South plant project.
Some leaders in the Senate, including Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, want to put a halt to government spending before any stimulus package is passed. Wednesday, McCaskill along with Senators Russ Feingold, D-WI, John McCain, R-AZ, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Tom Coburn, R-OK, introduced legislation that would give transparency to bills that contain appropriations. McCaskill spoke Wednesday with the other Senators saying that she realized just how much wasteful spending went on in Congress shortly after her arrival in Washington two years ago.
“I had stars in my eyes that we had taken such meaningful steps in real reform in the way we spend money, and then I watched as a golf course was put into the defense authorization bill,” McCaskill said talking about her first experiences in the Senate.
“That is something I know my colleagues agree with me on, but until we expose how much of this money might have been wasted through the earmarking process, we probably won’t get the public’s full support. I look forward to telling the freshmen (Senators) that there is life after earmarks.”
Part of the bill would require a Web site searchable database be created that the public could search and examine any earmarks or appropriations that are included in the legislation. The public would have at least 48 hours to review the bill before the Senate could vote on it. Additionally, any appropriations would need a super majority to pass.
Locally, Missouri Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, announced yesterday that he will introduce a resolution in the Senate that would send a message to Washington to stop wasting tax dollars and to have a laissez-faire approach to the American markets.
“Government intrusion comes at a high price,” Bartle said in his weekly report. “The U.S. economy will be stronger in the long run if the government stops its interference with the operation of the private sector and returns to our founding principles of fiscal responsibility and respect for the workings of the free market.”
Photo: Richmond is hoping stimulus money will arrive to help replace water lines like the one causing this leak in front of Maurice Roberts Park. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)

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