The federal economic stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is only a "placebo" when it comes to infrastructure improvements in the Victor Valley, according to a Hesperia official.


Hesperia's Director of Development Services, Scott Priester, made the remark at a mid-year budget workshop Tuesday, where the city staff outlined what it's doing to tighten the city's collective belt and gave a preview of the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 budget, which will be presented to the Hesperia City Council this summer.


Priester's comments specifically referred to the $65 million of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that is expected to make its way to the San Bernardino Associated Governments for infrastructure improvements. SANBAG coordinates regional road projects and distributes county, state and federal monies to member cities. There's only one problem: $65 million doesn't buy as much as it used to.


"How many projects [will SANBAG] going to invigorate for that?" Priester said at Tuesday's meeting. "Maybe one. It's a placebo effect, as far as we're concerned."


Priester expanded elaborated on his comments on Friday.


"The possibility or the likelihood we'll get any of it, it'll be like winning the lottery," he said. "It was disappointing to us."


There's still a possibility other parts of the infrastructure spending will make their way to Hesperia, though.


"There was some water or wastewater funding in there. There was a couple billion dollars in there, but that's nationwide," he said. "For water or wastewater type facilities, you either have to either pollute a lot or use a lot of water. And we're not doing that."


The bill also provides money for "shovel-ready" projects ready to go within 90 days. The city doesn't have any projects that are at that stage -- they're either already underway or more than 90 days away from having a proposal assembled in time for it to compete with other such proposals.


But the state of California has been given $1.8 billion for similar projects, half of which has to be allocated within 50 days. According to Priester, they're unlikely to be able to get all of that spent in that time frame, which may mean more money for SANBAG and, potentially, Hesperia.


"SANBAG has a list of every project that communities have submitted to them. If we get money, we can go to work immediately."


And if money does make it to Hesperia for infrastructure improvements, through whatever route, Priester said it will put dollars in the pockets of local workers and businesses.


"The big contractors that build these type of facilities, like the Ranchero Road undercrossing ... you have some of those workers living in Hesperia and Victorville and Apple Valley. So there would be a benefit to that, without question."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.