As part of our new Waste Watch series, we're tracking your federal stimulus dollars. In 2009, the federal government passed the stimulus with a promise that the dollars would create jobs and would be easy to track.
So how easy to track is it? It turns out many projects are not updated, and project managers have not reported job totals in many cases.
We wanted to see how user-friendly the government tracking website, recovery.gov, is for the average taxpayer.
One benefit is an interactive map that allows users to zoom in to any zip code in the country and see how many stimulus projects happened there.
Each project is marked on the map, with information on the cost of the project, its completion status, and the name of the recipient.
But descriptions of the projects tend to be convoluted or nonexistent.
In fact, 13WHAM News had to call the recipients of dozens of stimulus grants just to understand what the money was being spent on.
"We're all taxpayers, and we have no problem with people asking questions," said Ken Nelson, Director of School Facilities for the Rush-Henrietta district.
R-H is an example where the money checks out cleanly, with the tax dollars being spent exactly as intended.
Their energy efficiency project is a good example. The district received roughly $220,000 and kicked in $50,000 on their own.
The result was a $270,000 project that upgraded the district's lights; they hired a local crew for five months to perform the installation of motion-detectors and other equipment.
"The project has already proven to save the district quite a bit of money," Nelson explained. "We're saving on an annual basis 600,000 kilowatt hours. That's equivalent to $45,000 a year in savings."
That means this project will pay for itself in six years.