Committee to oversee local stimulus spending

January 31, 2009 

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry on Saturday established the Mayor's Commission on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

The group will provide recommendations on federal funding Lexington may receive through a plan President Barack Obama is designing to stimulate the economy and create jobs, according to a release from the mayor's office.

The plan, now a bill that is working its way through Congress, proposes funding for projects that must be completed in a two-year period.

At the request of the Obama transition team, Newberry and other community leaders compiled a list of local projects and submitted them for funding, as did communities across the country. Lexington's list included 196 projects totaling $556 million.

"These are important projects for our community that we have been unable to afford," Newberry said. "Of course, we won't get everything on this list, but we think we have the opportunity to receive significant funding. It's important that our community be prepared to spend the funding we receive wisely."

The commission, which will meet in open session, will provide recommendations on how the money would be spent and monitor the expenditures to ensure the optimum public benefit.

Although he said he may appoint other members, the initial 17 appointees include Newberry as chair, City Senior Adviser Joe Kelly; Acting Commissioner of Public Works Mike Webb; Commissioner of Environmental Quality Cheryl Taylor; Commissioner of Finance and Administration Kyna Koch; Public Safety Commissioner Tim Bennett; Vice Mayor Jim Gray; 11th District Councilmember Peggy Henson; 6th District Councilmember Kevin Stinnett; and12th District Councilmember Ed Lane.

Appointees from the community include 79th District State Rep. Susan Westrom; 88th District State Rep. Bill Farmer; Commerce Lexington Vice President for Community and Minority Business Development Tyrone Tyra; Urban League Administrator of Development David Cozart; Executive Director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority Austin Simms; University of Kentucky Director of Community Relations Lisa Higgins-Hord; and United Way President Kathy Plomin.

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