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Stimulus package means cash for you

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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The recently enacted $787 billion economic stimulus plan appears to have something for nearly everyone, including Auburn, Placer County and you. The funding will put people back to work on road improvement projects, put more cops back on the streets and put a little more money in workers’ paychecks. The benefits you might see include the Making Work Pay tax credit. Based on 6.2 percent of your earned income, up to $400 less will be taken out of federal withholdings in paychecks from spring to the end of the year. First-time homebuyers get an $8,000 tax credit. And the Federal-State Extended Duration Benefit, passed in late March by the state Legislature, adds 20 weeks of unemployment insurance. There’s also an additional $25 a week added to unemployment benefits. Cities and counties are also looking to the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, too, seeking to cushion the blow of budget cuts and give the green light to road improvement and other projects. With California expecting $2.67 billion in transportation funds, Caltrans has already given the go-ahead for 57 projects, costing $625 million. “It was based on projects that are on the shelf ready to go and the ones that will bring the most jobs right away,” Caltrans spokesman Mark DeSio said this week. It’s all about putting people to work. “Every $1 billion in funding helps to create 18,000 jobs,” Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco said. As the next rounds of funding unfold, local governments will have more direct say in choosing projects. State legislation passed last week allows more of the money to go directly to regional agencies than through the state, Rocco added. That streamlines the process of getting funds directly to the counties. Placer County is looking to receive more than $4 million for transportation. “We’ll be doing some road rehabilitation,” said Ken Grehm, director of Public Works for the county. “We hope to use a portion to continue on our Auburn-Folsom Road widening project. That’s an $8 million project.” There’ll be something for the Tahoe Basin, too. “We’re using our share of money up there to build a transit center,” Grehm said. “It’s a place in Tahoe City where three of our routes come together.” Auburn and Placer County are already benefiting from the $1.07 billion coming to the state for transit projects. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments authorized $185,000 for Auburn to replace two 25-foot-long buses and $1.1 million for Placer County Transit to replace two 57-foot-long commuter buses. The county would like to see dollars for wastewater treatment, too. It’s a priority, public information officer Anita Yoder said. “We have needs in that area and have been trying to find federal funding for a number of years in some cases, so we’re hoping,” she said. The Placer County Sheriff’s Department also has a wish list. The department is applying for grants being financed by the stimulus package. “We have a Justice Assistance Grant in conjunction with the City of Roseville and the Probation Department that we’ll be taking to the Board of Supervisors on April 7,” administrative services manager Barbara Besana said. “It will be for community programs, for a special investigations unit to reduce occurrence of drug trafficking and illegal drugs, and reduce the number of children in drug-endangered environments.” The funds would pay part of the cost of a deputy sheriff, probation officer and some community services officers in Roseville, where funding has been cut because of budget reductions, she said. “Part of the reductions take effect this year, part next year,” Besana said. “We’re trying to offset that so people can continue working in those capacities.” The Sheriff’s Department is also looking at a Cops Rehiring grant to get funding for positions removed from the 2009-2010 budget, she said. Some of the stimulus funds are earmarked for Internet expansion. In Auburn, the Sierra Economic Development Corporation is working on a project to expand broadband into rural areas of Northern California. “Of the $7.2 billion nationwide, California is going after $1 billion,” SEDCorp CEO Brent Smith said. “That will be subdivided among several programs.” SEDCorp works under contract to the California Emergency Technology Fund and Smith is monitoring if and how the funding will be administered. “It hasn’t impacted us yet,” he said. “We’ve got our eyes open.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson contributed to this story. The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com. ----------------- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: What it means to you Following are some of the provisions of the federal stimulus package passed by Congress in February: On the job — Most workers can expect to see a little more in their paychecks. The Making Work Pay credit 2009 and 2010 is 6.2 percent of a taxpayer’s earned income with a maximum credit of $800 for a married couple filing a joint return and $400 for other taxpayers. It phases out at higher income levels. The benefit will be spread out over paychecks from spring to the end of the year, according to an Internal Revenue Service press release. First-time homebuyers (and those who haven’t had a home in three years) — There’s an $8,000 tax credit. “It’s definitely better than the old program because previously you had to pay it back at $500 a year,” Windermere Real Estate’s Jack Amick said. “Under the new program, it’s $8,000 you can actually put on your taxes.” Buying a new car — You’ll be able to deduct the sales tax on your income tax return. If you’re unemployed — The Federal-State Extended Duration Benefit passed in late March by the state Legislature adds a 20-week extension for unemployment insurance benefits. In addition, the stimulus plan added $25 a week to unemployment insurance payments. For low-income families — The stimulus plan expands eligibility for the childcare credit and earned income credit.