1,012 jobs would have been created this year if every city of Santa Fe request for federal stimulus funds had been approved.
"Most states pulled together what amounted to massive statewide wish lists, raising hopes for municipal makeovers."—April 17 Associated Press article on the $787 billion federal stimulus
Here's how President Barack Obama's economic stimulus works in microcosm.
Santa Fe Transit Director Jon Bulthuis requested $4.8 million to buy new buses and transit center improvements. That spending supposedly would have created 52 jobs.
But Santa Fe Trails was only awarded $1.3 million. "We didn't get quite what we had asked for, but we're grateful for what we did get," Bulthuis says.
In all likelihood, that $1.3 million won't directly create any new local jobs—the bulk of it will purchase new natural gas powered buses. Nobody makes those anywhere near Santa Fe. "It's likely the successful bidder will be somewhere else," Bulthuis says.
Some of the money will go to improve bus stops and shelters, and Bulthuis says money will be available for local contractors.
How many guys does it take to spruce up a bus stop?
All together, the city applied for $81 million in stimulus funds for 26 projects, from new sewer lines to police uniforms.
So can we expect the stimulus to provide loads of new full-time jobs in Santa Fe this year? Not really.
Nearly twice as many Santa Feans work in retail as in construction, where the stimulus funds are targeted. This month, 130 people lost their jobs at Thornburg Mortgage—desk jockeys are unlikely to don hard hats.
Besides, the state and city are lagging when it comes to claiming the federal money. New Mexico is toward the bottom of the list in green-lighted projects, with only 21 percent of funding requests approved so far, according to propublica.org.
Other approved local projects include $781,600 for energy efficiency, including solar panels and new lighting at city buildings. (That's just 2 percent of the city's original $33 million energy efficiency request.)
The city also got $1.1 million to begin repaving a runway at the Santa Fe Municipal Airport, "used daily for parking numerous aircraft." (Original request: $1.5 million.)
Most other projects have yet to be OK'd.
The city asked for $500,000 to replace or fix up "seven old and dangerous bridges" downtown over the Santa Fe River. An $8 million regional high-speed broadband network—perhaps the most creative request—would supposedly create 250 jobs.
Download Santa Fe's full stimulus request HERE.