The stimulus funds that have finally made their way to Arizona took the standard six-month tour through the bureaucratic machinery that is in place to ensure money is allocated fairly and spent wisely.
The tour is not quite over yet for Arizona’s money, though. A story recently published by the Arizona Republic points out that the Labor Department effectively delayed the start of some work – including weatherization improvements – when it ruled May 29 that the Davis-Bacon Act, a Depression-era law that sets wages for some federal jobs, would apply to the weatherization program for the first time.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy said a Labor Department ruling on the matter, which would include wage guidelines, is expected by the end of August. The Labor Department, the paper noted, didn’t say why it had waited until late May to rule on the relevance of Davis-Bacon.
And while the ruling likely will affect as many as 40 urban areas nationwide, officials in Phoenix say they have had enough experience with Davis-Bacon to forge ahead with their weatherization effort, which could result in improvements to as many as 40 homes a month in the city.
Once the program kicks into high gear statewide, at least 300 contractors will be on the job full time over the next three years, improving about 6,400 homes.
If it meets all of the DOE requirements as spends its weatherization allotments, Arizona will get a total of $57 million over three years. In recent years, the Republic notes, Arizona received about $2 million annually from multiple federal grants, plus about $2.5 million annually from utility companies around the state.