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Stimulus spending in Carbon - $17 million

Sun Advocate Reporter

While much attention has been given to the debate over the wisdom of the economic stimulus program, the Sun Advocate has decided to take an impartial look at how much money has come into Carbon County and where that money has been spent.

It's a long list.

According to the government's latest report, the total value of grants and contracts awarded in the county through June comes to about $17 million. That averages out to about $800 for every human being living within the county borders. This includes only public works programs and does not include the tax breaks the majority of taxpayers here got as part of the stimulus.

Here is the breakdown by Zip Code:

84501 (Price) - $16,265,207

84526 (Helper) - $34,635

84542 (Wellington) - $272,188

84520 (East Carbon/Sunnyside) - $643,498

Not all of the money awarded has been spent yet, nor has all the money been spent for projects in the city of each Zip Code. The Carbon School District headquarters, for example, is in Price so the $3.3 million the district received counts toward the 84501 total. Likewise, the $2 million for the state's share of the Carbonville Road project is listed under the Price Zip Code.

It makes tracing the flow of money a bit like herding cats.

A case in point is the 84542 grant that went to the Wellington RUCD Head Start and Early Head Start. Executive Director Lynnette Mitchell explained that this program entails eight counties in Utah.

A big chunk of the money went to refurbishing the Early Head Start building in Moab, which will enable the Head Start program to move into the same building. That reduces energy use and utility expenses, which will be a long-term saving.

The rest of the money went for providing incentives for teachers to advance their education and additional money will go for a 17 month mentoring program to train teachers in the latest research-based early childhood education. There was also a one-time 1.8 percent pay raise for teachers.

Private companies have also gotten contracts to perform public projects. Pacific Central Steel, for instance, got $78,676 for steel fabrication as part of the push to remove the uranium mill tailings from the banks of the Colorado River outside Moab. That tailings project dwarfs Carbon County's awards. It's more than $100 million.

The contractor on the most recent upgrades at the Housing Authority apartments and received a $232,439 contract for the work. As reported earlier in this paper, although the work made the buildings look more attractive, the fundamental purpose was energy conservation and building preservation.

Helper received a Justice Assistance Grant of $34,635 for its police department.

The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments was appropriated about $2.3 million for home weatherization projects and by last summer had spent $500,000 of that. The program reduces energy consumption and utility bills, which make up a big proportion of low-income households' expenses. Less energy consumption means less environmental impact and also produces long-term saving for the government by reducing the burden on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program over the long run, the grant justification paperwork explains.

The list goes on: $2.5 million for improvements on Highways 10 and 55; $138,234 for health care services in East Carbon/Sunnyside; $34,950 for the Southeastern Utah Health District for a program for infants and toddlers with diseases.

USU-CEU was awarded $2.2 million for faculty and staff retention.

Pinnacle Canyon Academy received $548,000 for general education, at-risk students and students with disabilities.

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