City Hall: Stimulus Could Mean Up to $1 B. for Infrastructure

In recent weeks, the federal stimulus package has often been talked about in messianic terms, viewed as something that will drench New York City in cash to spend. Labor leaders, construction industry executives and elected officials alike have referred to it as a temporary cure to a construction industry soon to be hurting for a sudden lack of work.

But as the Senate and House work to reconcile their bills, it is quite apparent that money for construction and infrastructure is not all that plentiful, at least relative to the spending levels private contractors, the city and the M.T.A. are accustomed to.

The Bloomberg administration today announced it expects it will get from the federal stimulus package roughly between $500 million and about $1 billion in capital dollars, according to testimony at the City Council delivered by Jeff Kay, director of the mayor’s Office of Operations. That money, spread over two years, is not a particularly enormous sum given that the city’s capital plan calls for more than $18 billion in spending over the next two years.

Given that the Senate and House bills are quite different in some areas, the city estimates it will receive:

  • Between $100 million and $125 million for road and bridge repair
  • Between nothing and $400 million for school renovation and modernization
  • Between $50 million and $90 million to upgrade energy efficiency in city-owned buildings
  • Between $225 million and $300 million for renovating and upgrading public housing
  • Between $80 million and $110 million in low interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements

After his testimony, Mr. Kay said that the money would not necessarily mean that the capital plan would grow by the amount that Washington gives the city. Rather, he suggested, some of the federal money could replace city money, depending on the final stipulations in the legislation.

“We have to keep in mind the ‘supplement, not supplant,’ language, and what that means and what that doesn’t mean,” he said of the federal stimulus bill.

The city has not yet released lists of eligible projects for stimulus money—Mr. Kay said such lists would only “distract from the bigger picture” before a bill is passed—but Mr. Kay said the priority would be on “fix it first” infrastructure, or repair projects. As Azi Paybarah notes over at PolitckerNY, some on the Council are less than pleased with the way the administration is handling the stimulus so far, saying they are being left out of the decision-making.

While the city has avoided lists of projects, it has sent out a letter to elected officials broadly outlining its priorities with stimulus legislation.

City Hall: Stimulus Could Mean Up to $1 B. for Infrastructure