BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton Councilman Joe Burns says the city should focus on the reason it’s getting so much federal stimulus funding when determining how to spend it.
Burns, who is also the Democratic candidate for Mayor this fall, says Binghamton is receiving 46 million dollars in large part because of its high poverty rate.
The U-S Treasury Department announced earlier this week that the funds must be spent over the next several years on certain eligible uses including public health, hard-hit communities and infrastructure.
Burns agrees that infrastructure such as water and sewer would be a worthwhile use of the money, although he would push for a Project Labor Agreement to ensure that the work is done by local union contractors.
But he says the bigger priority should be neighborhood revitalization.
Burns recommends grants to address substandard and unsafe housing.
“We need to let these landlords know that there’s money available to them that they can not hide from code but they can come apply for a grant, we can get those houses up to code. At the same time, we’re creating jobs by doing that. We don’t give the money to the landlords, we give the money to the builders,” says Burns.
Burns would also offer grants for a similar painting program for property owners.
And he wants to provide seed money to acquire a location and equipment for start-up daycare facilities that serve low-income families.
Burns and his Democratic colleagues on Council are hosting a Virtual Town Hall tomorrow evening at 7 to solicit input from constituents on how to spend the stimulus.
Click here for our story with Republican Mayoral candidate Jared Kraham about how he would prioritize the money.