Fayette County

Newberry, other mayors meet with President Obama

WASHINGTON — Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry and more than 60 other mayors from across the country met with senior White House officials on Friday to gain clarity on economic stimulus money's impact on local communities.

During their meeting with President Barack Obama, he made it clear that money from the federal stimulus package must be spent with accountability and transparency.

"If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it," Obama said.

Newberry said he is taking to heart Obama's direction. Friday's stimulus commission meeting in Lexington, broadcast on the city's cable channel and streamed over the Internet, is just one step toward transparency, Newberry said.

At this point, it's unclear how much money Lexington might receive from the stimulus, but the need for the involvement of the members of the commission is evident, Newberry said.

A dozen federal agencies will be doling out money, some through a formula and some through competitive applications, he said. "This is massive. It's going to require a lot of effort to maximize the funding sources."

People with various agencies will be asked to take responsibility for some areas, Newberry said. For example, Public Safety Commissioner Tim Bennett will handle homeland security funds and Melinda Rowe, commissioner of the county health department, will tackle health issues.

Lexington's stimulus commission discussed Friday the importance of communication so that agencies in Lexington don't end up competing with each other for the same pots of money.