Mayor Allen Joines was among five U.S. mayors invited to participate in a conference call yesterday with Vice President Joseph Biden to provide suggestions on implementing the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.
Joines was asked to discuss Winston-Salem's experiences with the stimulus program to date and to suggest ways to improve program delivery.
Joines said that he wanted to be a part of this conference call to encourage the administration to carefully monitor stimulus funding programs and to act judiciously in releasing funds to programs that demonstrate actual job retention and creation.
"I think the vice president was interested in Winston-Salem's experience because we are representative of so many medium-sized cities across the country," Joines said. "It was important that we could provide our suggestions as well as make a case for the types of funding that can be most beneficial to our city."
Joines described for Biden the innovative ways the city is planning to spend the federal funds in creating jobs and addressing critical community needs. One area he highlighted is the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. "We expect to receive about $2.8 million and will use the funds for eight projects that will create over 200 jobs, save the city $1.4 million in energy costs over a 10-year period and reduce carbon emissions by about eight thousand tons annually," Joines said.
"Our innovative approach will use half of the energy savings to establish an on-going energy fund to create more projects that reduce carbon emissions in the city and help improve our air quality."
Joines and other mayors told Biden that cities need better information on selection guidelines for competitive grants that will be available to local governments in the future.
Joines said the vice president indicated that federal departments have been asked to move quickly to get that information out as quickly as possible. Biden encouraged the mayors to call him directly with issues or problems because he is committed to ensuring that the program is effective, Joines said.
Also participating in the conference call were the mayors of Phoenix; Oklahoma City; Cincinnati; and Eugene, Ore. Two county officials from Virginia and Wisconsin also participated.