Stimulus funds allocated to Poulsbo should stay

The notion of extra money, no matter the source from which it came, is something nearly impossible for folks to wrap their heads around.

In this day and age, when no one can escape the brutal economy that’s smacking budgets from arts councils to the federal government, no money is “extra”; it’s just reallocated.

In the case of the Viking Way improvement project, the federal government allocated $3.8 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act money to foot the bill. Because the stars aligned just right — contractors are starved for work and contracting materials are cheaper today than last year — the project came in at $1 million less than projected.

City officials want to keep that money and throw it at another project, which would refurbish 1,000 linear feet of South Viking Avenue, said Andrzej Kasiniak, Poulsbo city engineer. This is the section of Viking Way that looks near-deserted after Poulsbo RV moved out of town last year and some auto dealers followed suit.

Following the proper protocol, city officials took their plan to the Puget Sound Regional Council, the watchdog organization overseeing the ARRA funds. The PSRC gave the project the thumbs up.

So do we.

Viking Way needs an injection of good fortune if it is ever to regain its former glory. Because the $3.8 million already has been allocated specifically to create new jobs in Poulsbo, moving the remainder to a new project — rather than forfeiting the funds — just makes sense.

By allowing the city to shift the funds over and continuing the much-needed Viking Way renovation, the PRSC is rewarding the city for coming in under budget on a project.

That’s the way it should be.

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