Wednesday morning, Rep. Cindy Axne met with mayors in and around the Des Moines metro to discuss how to get more bang for their buck out of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
For the most part, every mayor and city manager mentioned how projects they want to see, whether it be water infrastructure, bridges or broadband, are projects the communities can work on together.
“All these things are inter-related and we have so many great opportunities. I’ll tell you in the metro, we’ve got a lot of activities we’re working on together,” said Johnston City Administrator Jim Sanders. “I hope there’s opportunities to share in resources.”
At the meeting were representatives from Clive, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Altoona, Griswold, Johnston, Greenfield, Urbandale, Waukee and Runnells.
Axne said that collaboration is a great idea, especially for the communities located right next to each other and those that already work together.
“The more that you all can connect and figure out how you can best ask for this in this community or this over there, we’re going to get bigger bang for our buck,” she said. “So I’m glad to hear you’re already starting that, keep it up.”
Other mayors mentioned working together on county roads, storm water management and watershed maintenance because those areas connect their communities.
Axne encouraged everyone to start contacting the state about allocations as soon as possible. The money is coming from the federal infrastructure bill, but it will be distributed largely through the Iowa Department of Transportation and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office.
The advice was especially true for the smaller communities such as Griswold and Runnells.
Representatives from both towns said they were concerned that their needs would be overlooked because they have smaller populations. Both said they have projects that cost far more than what their city budgets allow.
Runnells Mayor Gerald Lane talked about his town’s long-standing efforts to rebuild its wastewater management facility. He was concerned that, because the town is small, the people there wouldn’t be seen as a priority.
“The bid that we got back was over $5 million for a town of 500 people,” he said.
“We really are concerned that we’re going to be left behind,” Runnells City Clerk Stephanie Herbold said. “We don’t have the resources to go after the grants and compete against some of the larger towns.”
“I appreciate what you’re saying and there are rural communities across the country that need that support and I will make sure that I will put a call into the White House today on all of these issues,” Axne said.
President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Nov. 15. Iowa will get about $5 billion for projects over the next five years, including specific funding for roads, water-quality projects, bridges, public transportation, airports, broadband and electric vehicle infrastructure.
by Nikoel Hytrek