Verdict still out on result of stimulus

Published 12:01 am Sunday, April 19, 2015

Six years ago, the national economy was in a tailspin. National banks were teetering on the brink of disaster causing serious concern for millions of residents and businesses.

While Natchez was in far better shape than many cities, locals felt the pain here as well.

That panicked sense of “what’s next?” led many Americans to support the federal government’s plan to provide an economic stimulus.

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The federal government took on more debt and began divvying it out to states through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

Locally, approximately $28 million in federal funds poured in the area. The money was spent on a litany of projects, many of which were considered “transitory,” meaning the funds paid for salaries and thus had only fleeting results.

Only a few local stimulus projects were for fixed assets. Of those, only three remain tangible and particularly noteworthy today.

The state-of-the-art, sludge-drying greenhouses have not worked out exactly as initially planned.

The bridge lighting project, though a pain to complete and an ongoing headache to keep bulbs operational, has provided a much-enhanced scenic view of the river bridges at night.

The Natchez Transit Authority’s new complex also would appear to be a good investment, at least in that the building is new and attractive.

However, we’ve long questioned the NTA’s actual need as many times we see their multi-passenger vehicles traveling around with either no or very few passengers.

Years after the stimulus checks were cashed, it’s difficult to know if the stimulus money actually helped the local economy or simply was federal money wasted on unnecessary projects. Perhaps more time will tell.