Arizona Legislature’s funding sweep could doom Bullhead City parks projects

Rotary Park, Bullhead City

[Source: Neil Young, Mohave Daily News] — The city of Bullhead City could be left holding the bag if the state of Arizona pulls grant funding from a park improvement project already under way.  In scrambling to close a $1.6 billion budget deficit, state legislators are “sweeping” dollars from various funds, including the State Lake Improvement Funds (SLIF) and the Local, Regional and State Parks (LRSP) Heritage Fund.  Bullhead City relies heavily on grant funding for its park improvements.  “What Arizona State Parks (Department) told me,” said Karla Brady, Bullhead City’s interim parks, recreation and community services director, “the state is coming in and as of Feb. 28, taking… funding and that included already-awarded grants, which was unexpected.”

Several Bullhead City park projects would be affected, Brady said.  State Parks officials told her “only expenses incurred through Feb. 1 would be reimbursable.  I could request reimbursement within the next week or two, but basically, no more work could be done under a grant project.”

The Rotary Park north beach renovation project already is in progress. Work is being performed by Larry D. Builders, which was awarded a $454,000 contract.  “It could leave us with a liability of $224,000 in SLIF funding that we would not be able to get,” Brady said.  Finding that much money is next to impossible; Bullhead City has instituted job freezes and laid off employees due to lack of funds.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

No Arizona state funds for rebuilding Parker pool

[Source: John Gutekunst, Parker Pioneer] — The Arizona State Parks Department has informed the Town of Parker they will not be providing funds to rebuild the town’s pool.  In an e-mail sent Feb. 2 to Community Development Director Guy Gorman, the parks department said that, due to the state’s budget problems, they were suspending further expenditures on projects funded with grants from the department.  The e-mail stated the legislature had cut funding for the Heritage Grant program. 

Heritage Grant and State Lake Improvement Fund recipients were told to halt construction if state funds were critical to the completion of the project.  The town had planned to use a State Parks Heritage Grant to rebuild the pool.  The grant was awarded in 2006.  The plan was to have the pool ready and open by this summer.  The current pool has deteriorated to the point where it has been closed since 2003.  “This legislative action comes with great disappointment to the community,” Mayor Karen Bonds said in a prepared statement. “Many hours of effort by so many have already been put into this project.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Obama stimulus plan sparks questions over short-term impact

[Source: Mike Sunnucks, The Phoenix Business Journal] — As Congress moves on President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, critics are voicing concerns about where the money is being spent and whether it will have a quick payoff.  The $825 billion package could swell to $1 trillion and looks to pump up the economy via federal spending on public works construction, energy research, aid to state governments with budget deficits, expanded welfare and safety net programs.

One estimate by the Congressional Budget Office said only $26 billion would be allocated this year on infrastructure and public works spending as states and cities, including Scottsdale, Goodyear, Tucson, Phoenix and Mesa, line up projects for possible funding.  Meanwhile, local officials say federal requirements to have construction and infrastructure projects “shovel-ready” is limiting such requests.  Gay Garesche, an economics professor at Glendale Community College, said the U.S. economy may be rebounding by the time the federal stimulus money gets to construction projects and starts to work its way into economic benefits.  “That stimulus isn’t going to hit until the economy has almost recovered,” said Garesche. Instead, she suggests continued help for banks to free up credit and loans and avoiding any actions that hurt the U.S. auto market.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]