Website Tracks Stimulus Money

BERLIN – Local residents concerned about just how the state intends to spend the millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding heading its way are now able to track expenditures in their communities.

Gov. Martin O’Malley last week announced Maryland’s plan to monitor and track the expenditure of federal stimulus funds in the state with the launching of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website. With just the click of a mouse, website users are expected to be able to locate their home counties, or even more specifically their individual communities, to see if and where federal stimulus dollars are being directed on a variety of fronts including public education, highway projects and transportation, for example.

“The citizens of Maryland will be able to track and monitor our progress every step of the way with the accountability, transparency and efficiency that we’ve brought to state government,” O’Malley said this week. “In Maryland, we have been planning for months to put these tax dollars to use in the most responsible and sustainable way possible to create thousands of jobs, continue to protect our number-one ranked public schools, and provide critical services to our families during these difficult economic times.”

The state’s new interactive website, www.recovery.maryland.gov, is up and running, and while it is somewhat awkward to actually click on a county such as Worcester, or more precisely a community, such as Berlin, it does provide specific information about stimulus-funded expenditures in local areas. It includes a geographical map of the state, as well as a GPS-driven map, on which website users can click on their home county or area and see just how the funds are being directed, at least in the first phase.

For example, by clicking on the education funding icon and dragging it onto Worcester, a bar graph appears through which one can see the state investment in public schools in the original fiscal year 2010 budget was around $16.8 million, but “recovery enabled enhancements” add roughly $3.5 million to the total. By clicking on the individual segments of the bar graph, one can see roughly $1.3 million of the stimulus money directed at education in Worcester County is directed at teacher pension equity, while $797,000 is directed at Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) programs, $699,000 directed toward Title I schools in the county and $623,000 in “other aid” heading Worcester’s way.

There is also an icon for highway infrastructure projects across the state including Worcester.

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