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City mulls cash for consultants

August 21, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — Burbank officials are strongly considering hiring consultants to head an effort to identify, track and secure a larger share of economic stimulus funds.

Deputy City Manager Justin Hess, who is consulting with executives from neighboring cities to compare strategies, is preparing a report for the City Council with cost estimates for the position.

The early estimate thus far — including monitoring, identifying potential stimulus funding opportunities and making program recommendations — tops $3,500 per month, Hess said. Estimates do not include grant writing and other activities.

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Burbank has so far been allocated $3.2 million in highway infrastructure funding, $1.1 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block grants, $313,684 in Community Development Block Grant funds and $122,350 in federal Justice Assistance grants.

Another $5.8 million in Recovery Zone Economic Development bonds has been allocated, with the city having until the end of 2010 to sign on to the program.

Currently, city departments track potential stimulus dollars on their own, but the process is a severe drain on staff resources given the pace at which new programs spring up along with shifting application deadlines, Hess said.

“There’s just a lot of different ways money is coming out through the state and federal government, and we want to make sure we don’t miss anything,” he said.

Councilman Dave Golonski said despite the city’s best efforts, the reality is that the federal stimulus program, with all of its intricacies, could be described as dozens of small programs.

“I think that recognizing the economic times we’re in now, that this is a smart investment,” Golonski said. “It may or may not pay out for us, but I think we lessen the likelihood that we miss out on a funding opportunity that otherwise we may have been able to take advantage of.”

Signed by President Obama on Feb. 17, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is designed to preserve and create jobs, assist those most affected by the recession and to invest in transportation, environmental protection and other infrastructure needs.

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