How Will City Of Tulsa Get Stimulus Money?

Tuesday, May 5th 2009, 4:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa is hoping to get its hands on nearly $100 million in stimulus money.

But it's not easy, and there are a number of hoops and hurdles before any money gets to the city.

From the fire department to the police department to metro transit, the City of Tulsa has its sights set on stimulus money.

"We're applying for $517,942 from the EPA," said Cathy Criswell, the city's stimulus coordinator.

Criswell's job is to track every penny as it makes its way through the city offices.

"What I'm trying to do is coordinate information," she said.

It starts by applying for the money. For example, the city is looking at $16 million to increase the energy efficiency for metro transit buses.

The money comes through a grant in which the city must apply.

Most stimulus money is paid out through grants that already exist and have money waiting on the plate for qualified applicants.

The stimulus adds money to those grants, but city officials say even more agencies across the country have pulled up to the table and are applying for more money than is available, leaving some on the outside looking in.

"The thing is that we feel very passionate about our project, the things that we want to do to make the community better, but there are other people just like us who feel just as passionate about their projects," Criswell said.

The applications can be very complicated. The one for the EPA is 32 pages long and asks for specific details in how the city plans to use the money.

If it's accepted, Criswell says, the city won't be getting a check. Instead, work begins on the project and the money comes later.    

"Typically what happens is that when the city gets the award letter and we appropriate the funding to do it, we will spend the money and apply for reimbursement," Criswell said.

Criswell says the city must fill out monthly reports for the federal government on how it's using the stimulus money.

Later, federal auditors, including the FBI, will visit Tulsa at least twice a year to go over the books.