First share of stimulus going out

About $112 billion of the $787 billion federal stimulus fund has been allocated across the country, and the impacts of that planned spending should start being felt in the next three months, Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid said this week.

That was the message he took from a conference call between Vice President Joe Biden and local officials from across the country who are looking to the funds to address infrastructure needs and faltering economies.

“Billions have been allocated, but not much of it has been spent,” Reid said. “It takes a while to contract for the project or service, and then you have to get people on the ground doing the work.

“They believe during the next 100 days, much of the money that’s been obligated will actually be spent, and we’ll see the results of it.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed Feb. 17. Nevada’s share is set to be $1.5 billion, which on a per capita basis ranked second to last in the nation.

Little of that money has made it to the state yet, in part, Reid said, because the mechanisms for distributing it haven’t been set up.

For instance, Clark County officials are planning to compete for a slice of the $7.2 billion allocated nationally for improvements in broadband Internet access, but the grant process for requesting those funds is still being set up, said county spokeswoman Jennifer Knight.

Reid said he was also looking forward to securing funding for electronic medical records at University Medical Center, the county’s public hospital, and for $40 million worth of county projects to make government buildings more energy efficient.

State and local governments are putting together plans to combat homelessness and keep renters and mortgage-holders from being forced out on the street.

Some other highlights of the stimulus funds en route are:

• $201 million for Nevada highway construction. Half of the projects are scheduled to be certified for construction by the middle of June, according to the Department of Transportation, and the rest must be certified by February.

• $1.7 million has been received by the state to replace older school buses with newer, less-polluting ones, part of the $42.8 million expected by the state Department of Environmental Protection for needs such as drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs.

• $543 million was directed to a variety of education needs, such as construction, student lunches and staving off job losses.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate or 702-229-6435.

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