By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
FAIRWAY — The reports are in.
The entities, in Leavenworth, Topeka and Burden, all received federal grants in 2009 for money they pledged to use to create jobs, fix public infrastructure and help pull the nation out of the Great Recession.
Speaking of promises, the White House said it would show America how the money was put to work, so to speak, setting up a website — recovery.gov.
Listed on the website were the three Kansas entities, which were among 375 recipients of stimulus money that, the U.S. government said, had failed to account for the money and were listed as non-compliers, as of January, the most recent reporting cycle.
The Leavenworth Police Department got a $263,200 federal stimulus grant; the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, $189,545; and the City of Burden, a community of 500 in south central Kansas, received $117,253.
The respective lapses, each entity says, was a one-time occurrence that has since been corrected by subsequent reports covering January through March of this year.
“We’re up to date; we just filed our report for first quarter 2012,” said Maj. Don Nicodemus, the assistant police chief in Leavenworth. “We missed the deadline before because we were in the middle of transition between me and the person who did the report before.”
Leavenworth police, the Leavenworth county attorney’s office and the city of Lansing are using the grant money to install high-tech electronic police dispatching and records-management systems in those communities, which have the most state and federal prisons in Kansas.
The Topeka center missed the deadline because executives were uncertain about some funding sources, and the center failed to finish its budgets on time, said Amy Hyten, associate director of the nonprofit advocate for the disabled.
The center is using its grant money to provide part-time jobs for the equivalent of 3.8 full-time workers and, ironically, some new computer equipment and software to streamline federal reports.
“We caught up when we filled out our first quarter reports in April,” Hyten said.
Burden is using its slice of the federal stimulus money to buy tracking equipment and train officers to use it, said Will Tatum, the police chief there. He said Burden also missed deadlines for its fourth quarter 2011 report because those hit just as he was taking over for his predecessor.
“It was the first thing they dumped in my lap,” Tatum said. “We’re caught up now.”
None of the three Kansas grant recipients nor anyone else among the other governments or businesses that failed to file the financial reports is likely to be punished, said Cheryl Arvidson, deputy communications director for the federal Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, formed by the White House to keep tabs on the spending.
“In extreme cases, someone who consistently failed to report might have trouble getting money from the government in the future,” Arvidson said.
“But there is no punishment in the Recovery Act for not reporting” she said. “That is why we post their names online.”
In all, Kansas had nearly 3,200 recipients that got about $2.6 billion in Recovery Act loans, grants and contracts.
Kansas’ share was part of some $840 billion in stimulus money that the legislation — ARRA — made available across the country. President Barack Obama said the act would help save or create 3.5 million jobs and trim the nation’s then-current 8 percent unemployment rate to 7.25 percent by the end of 2010.
Did it work? Well, not exactly, says one researcher.
“After three years, the data clearly show that the president’s claims have underestimated the level of unemployment by roughly three million people (nearly 2 percentage points) on average each year,” Veronique de Rugy, a senior researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, wrote in a February review of the stimulus program’s results. Continue reading at Kansas Reporter.