The new panel charged with handing out state "I-JOBS" grants to cities, counties and non-profit agencies for flood recovery and prevention expects to have the first grants awarded by the end of the summer.
Governor Culver convinced legislators to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars for the "I-JOBS" program and the new I-JOBS Commission will hand out $165 million of that. Jeff Pomerantz, the city manager of West Des Moines, is chairman of the I-JOBS board.
"This is going to be a very active board and we’re we’re going to work our hardest to do our best for the people of Iowa as we make critical decisions about how to expend the dollars that have been designated," Pomerantz says.
According to Pomerantz, speed is important in handing out this money to repair flood damage and hopefully prevent future flooding.
"There are significant needs and we’ve got a big job ahead of us and there’s a lot of work to be done," Pomerantz says. "But we obviously understand that we need to move as quickly as is reasonable."
Overall, the state is borrowing more than $800 million this year. The University of Iowa is using tuition as collateral for a $100 million borrowing plan to help rebuild the Iowa City campus after last year’s flooding. The State of Iowa will issue bonds to investors to finance over $600 million for I-JOBS grants that will be used for a variety of infrastructure projects, ranging from bridge repair to new sewers.
State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald expects the state will have that bond money in hand by July 23.
"As treasurer, you know, I’m elected and I’ve been here 27 years and I’ll say this: if I thought there was one chance in a thousand, if there’s any chance at all we couldn’t pay these bonds off, I wouldn’t issue them. I wouldn’t sign my name to ’em," Fitzgerald says. "I honestly believe that."
The bulk of the I-JOBS money will be handed out by the Department of Transportation, the Office of Energy Independence and the Iowa Finance Authority.