Everyone’s excited about the money pouring, or rather trickling, out of the federal government in the form of economic stimulus. As is the case with many grants, loans and other funding sources, the money is meant to be used within a certain time and concrete results must be reported. Also, the whole point of this stimulus is that cities are desperate to spend money to create jobs and get stuff done.
All of which is great, except that the mad rush to spend the money may mean that planning wisely for communities’ future needs doesn’t happen. Cities and towns won’t prioritize planning first if their mandate is to spend and build now. So much for the idea that a deep recession and economic slow-down provides the opportunity to do serious long-term planning.
In a recent opinion column on Planetizen, a group of writers point out this potential problem in the Energy Efficiency Block Grants, which were authorized in 2007 but are only being distributed for the first time through the stimulus package. They note, though, that cities do have a window of opportunity to do some real planning for long-term energy use (and carbon reduction). It’s not much of a window – they have to write and implement their plans within four months – but it’s better than nothing.
Anyhow, if you are reading this and you work for a city or town interested in getting access to this energy efficiency money, note that the deadline for applying has moved back to August 10. See here for details.