One city in the east is responding to a recently published report by Republican Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn that says it was ineligible for stimulus funds.
The report lists 100 stimulus projects deemed as wasteful, including 1.9 million given to Greenville by the office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
Merrill Flood, Greenville community development director, says that an error in the approval process was made on the part of HHLHC-- but he says the money is not being rescinded--and that it certainly is not wasteful spending. "We are making a difference in the lives of families that are affected by lead based paint hazards. We have tested 71 units and cleared 53. We're actually ahead of schedule and that 25 families that have children under the age of 6 have had lead based paint eliminated from their homes so it won't harm the lives of those children."
An audit by the inspector general shows Greenville did not score high enough for the funds, but received the money anyway.
Stimulus package money that made its way to Greenville is on a list of projects some senators say was a bad way to spend taxpayer money.
The list from republican Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn includes $1.9 million allotted for Greenville to address lead in homes. However, a government audit found Greenville did not meet the threshold for that funding. The government decided not to rescind the money from Greenville as the audit suggested.
The City of Greenville's website says the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is being used in the following ways:
-Control and reduce lead hazards in one hundred and fifty (150) low-income housing units in the Greenville area (70 owner occupied units, 30 rental/vacant units).
-Addressing 150 housing units occupied by children under the age of six w/ elevated blood lead levels.
-Provide 75 outreach programs for community awareness and education regarding lead hazards aimed at reaching 5,000 people.
-Screening and test for elevated lead levels in children under age six.
-Provide Lead Safe Work and Lead Certification training to at least 10 Contractors involved in the City of Greenville housing rehabilitation program.
-Provide economic opportunities to at least sixty (60) unemployed and underemployed persons in the targeted neighborhoods, creating 60 jobs.
-Develop a self sustaining program by integrating lead hazard reduction into housing rehabilitation programs.
This was not the only project in North Carolina to make the list called "Summertime Blues." The University of North Carolina at Charlotte received more than $760,000 in stimulus funds to help develop a computerized choreography program. The report says the creators wanted to create a YouTube-like “Dance Tube” online application.
Money sent to Duke University to investigate new networking approaches for improved privacy and functionality for social networking websites was also criticized in the report.
Wake Forest University is using $266,505 in stimulus funds to continue its annual science education workshops for reporters. Another stimulus project they received brought $144,541 to see how monkeys react under the influence of cocaine. Wake Forest also received nearly $300,000 to study whether Integral Yoga can be an effective method to reduce the frequency and/or severity of hot flashes” in menopausal women. All three were criticized in the new report.
North Carolina State University projects that are under fire include a study of whether video games can improve mental health for the elderly, along with bug storage at the North Carolina State University Insect Museum.
To read the full report, click the link below.