Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, Jacksonville City Council President Ronnie Fussell, and other government and community leaders gathered today to outline a structure for how the city will administer the local elements of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, opportunities for additional funding from the act and the crucial role those dollars will play in stimulating the local economy.
“Whether one agrees or disagrees with the plan and its priorities, the legislation has passed and been signed into law by the President. It is now the obligation of every local leader to see that this money is responsibly put toward the new programs, new projects, or new investments that will reenergize the American economy today and improve our communities for the long term,” said Mayor Peyton.
In discussing how the city will move forward, Mayor Peyton outlined three primary goals that will direct the city's pursuit of federal stimulus funds. He believes these dollars should:
- Drive transformational change in the community, the result of which will stand the test of time;
- Provide fuel for this community's new investments in the short term; and
- Stimulate the local economy in a meaningful way.
The mayor has also adopted three principles that will guide the application of these funds in this community:
- Ensure complete transparency and accountability in the process and the allocation of all dollars
- Solicit broad community involvement and engagement to identify and prioritize needs
- Utilize funding to stimulate new opportunities in the community, not simply to plug a budget hole or bridge the gap between budget years
Aside from the tax credits and relief, the act contains about $575 billion that will be awarded in three primary forms: formula based allocations, competitive grants and discretionary awards.
Through the formula-based allocations contained within the act, Jacksonville expects to receive a minimum of $10 to $15 million for public safety, housing and community development or energy related projects.
In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation estimates that about $145 million will be spent on Northeast Florida transportation projects. Other agencies, such as the Jacksonville Housing Authority and Duval County Health Department will also receive millions in formula-based allocations.
The opportunities for additional funding from the stimulus plan are broad and massive.Examples of the many funding opportunities that the city will pursue include:
- Money through the U.S. Justice Department to hire and deploy new police officers into neighborhoods
- Funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the efficient movement of goods into and out of JAXPORT
- Dollars from the U.S. Interior Department for stormwater improvements and septic tank remediation
“The opportunities for investments through the stimulus plan are broad, and the only limitations to our success are the power of our creativity and our partnerships,” said Mayor Peyton. “There is money for workforce training, money for housing, money for public schools, money for colleges and universities, money for historically black colleges, money for healthcare and money for nearly every segment of this community.”
To oversee this vast program, Vice President Joe Biden recently instructed each municipality to identify a point person to coordinate local and federal efforts. Mayor Peyton has asked the city's deputy chief administrative officer, Kerri Stewart, to serve as this community's coordinator. In this role, Stewart has been working through the lengthy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to identify available funding for Duval County and has already begun outreach and coordination efforts.
“Allocation of this money should not begin and end with government,” said Mayor Peyton. “On a local level it will require partnerships among statehouses, city halls, the private sector, non-profits and grassroots organizations.”
As such, Mayor Peyton indicated that his administration will be working closely with local independent authorities – JEA, JTA, JAA, JAXPORT and WSEA – the Duval County School Board, community leaders, small, medium and large businesses, neighborhood organizations and non-profits to prioritize the highest and best needs for the entire community, not just the needs of one organization.
He has also asked a number of leaders in Jacksonville to play a key role in helping to ensure that the city is identifying and prioritizing projects in the community. Those individuals include people like Carlton Jones, a leader in business and community development; Jim McCollum, who has experience working with independent authorities and the private sector; and Rena Coughlin, a leader in the local non-profit community.
“The involvement of these individuals is a starting point for this process.All in this community who have an interest in helping to drive transformational change in our city and stimulate our economy are welcome to participate,” said Mayor Peyton.
Also today, City Council President Ronnie Fussell announced the appointment of Council Member Reggie Brown to serve as council liaison for this effort.Brown will engage with the work teams, help drive new partnerships in the effort, report back to the City Council on the activities of the effort and lead partnerships between the City Council and efforts to secure federal dollars.
“I appreciate the Council President's ongoing support on this program, his leadership on the council and his appointment of Council Member Brown to this effort,” said Mayor Peyton.“Council Member Brown will be a great addition to this team as his leadership of a local non-profit, service in the U.S. Army National Reserves and his keen business skills will help him bring a unique perspective to this committee.”
As transparency and accountability will be paramount to this process, the city has established a page on its Web site, www.coj.net, to provide information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Jacksonville's ongoing efforts to secure funding to stimulate the local economy.
In addition, Pam Markham, the city's Inspector General, has already begun the necessary training from the U.S. General Accounting Office to ensure local accountability and oversight associated with these dollars.
Along with Rep. Corrine Brown, Mayor Peyton will host an Economic Stimulus Summit on March 23, from 8 a.m. to noon. Individuals, businesses or organizations interested in learning how to apply for these federal funds should plan to attend. The event will be held at the Technology Center at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, 401 West State Street, Jacksonville, and will feature federal officials from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration to answer specific questions regarding the distribution of these recovery funds.
Space is limited. Those interested in attending should to call (904) 354-1652 to RSVP.