Many members of the public were curious when a recent news article mentioned that Springfield City Manager Greg Burris was unavailable to comment on Wayfinding signs because he was in Washington D.C.
Mayor Tom Carlson gave us the reason at the City Council luncheon on February 17.
Burris wasn't traveling alone. Carlson was absent from the last luncheon meeting because he, Economic Development Director Mary Smith and Scott Marrs accompanied Burris to Washington.
Carlson said, before the City started aggressively lobbying for money at the federal level, they were only receiving about $1 million a year. Since they began lobbying more aggressively the City has been the recipient of about $75 million.
Burris said the timing was good for the trip due to the ongoing deliberations about potential uses of the federal stimulus package funding. The stimulus bill did not pass the House and Senate until after the foursome returned from their trip.
"The timing was good. The staffers had been meeting all night and were exhausted but, they didn't know the specifics of anything just yet," Burris said.
The team of four had an opportunity to lobby Senator Claire McCaskill regarding projects for which the City would like to receive funding.
Mayor Carlson identified some of the projects as:
> A records management system for the police department
> A West wye
> Downtown water and sewer pipe infrastructure
> A County, City and MoDot collaborative to convert government vehicles to natural gas and a compressed natural gas station to accommodate them
"You look at what's out there and what we can qualify for as you go through," Carlson said. He said funding will be available, "for doing green things."
Public Information Director Louise Whall said the costs of the four City officials' trip to Washington would not be known for weeks but, Mayor Carlson felt the plane fare was well worth the trip considering the potential for the city to receive funding from the stimulus package, "So, probably worth the plane ticket," Carlson said, "You have to develop relationships."
The money will come either through the State or through existing federal agencies, "not like an earmarking deal," Carlson added.