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Area sees benefit from federal stimulus money

Lead hazard grant, city bus among benefits

March 13, 2010

It has been a year since the federal government appropriated billions for a national economic stimulus package and Marshalltown has reaped some rewards already, and will continue to reap rewards.

Millions of dollars has come into the community, some of which may have come anyway but much of which would not have. That makes it hard to assess the true impact of the stimulus package for the local area.

For example, some sites list a Byrne Grant received by local law enforcement as being part of the stimulus package, but that grant is one the local area often receives on an annual basis regardless. It may have been reduced this year if not for the stimulus, however.

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A bus being purchased by the Marshalltown transit division is being paid for with federal stimulus dollars. The total cost exceeds $330,000 and would not be affordable to the city without the federal help.

Suffice it to say, the benefit to the local area is in the millions, possibly more than $10 million. For example, the Marshalltown Community School District received approximately $3.3 million from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and the community college district received approximately $1 million.

The city of Marshalltown received nearly $2.6 million for a lead hazard control program that is run in Marshall, Hardin and Tama counties. The city was informed just before the stimulus was approved that it would no longer be getting federal funds.

"Without the stimulus funding, we would not have been able to continue the program we had for six years," said Michelle Spohnheimer, the city's housing director. "We could have reapplied next year, but we would have at least gone one full year without funding and that means we would have lost staff."

The lead hazard program provides funding for three full-time employees and pays contractors. Further, the program means materials and other things services are purchased in the area, further adding to the economic benefit.

"I look at it as a program that not only deals with lead poisoning and child safety, which is important, but I really look at it as community betterment," Spohnheimer said.

Another benefit to the city has been the acquisition of a new city bus.

"We would not have been able to afford the bus without that federal stimulus money, which is paying 100 percent of the cost," said Transit Director Richard Stone.

Stone says the new bus, when it arrives, will provide a number of other benefits, including lower emissions and lower maintenance costs, which is a big benefit to the city's budget and taxpayers.

In addition to the city and schools, Mid Iowa Community Action has also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal stimulus package.


Contact Ken Black at 641-753-6611 or



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