Friday, October 21, 2011

Capital Improvements 2011

This past Wednesday night I presented the 2013 - 2018 Capital Improvement's Program to the City Council and Planning Board. This program formulates a spending and implementation strategy for the goals and needs outlined in the City's Master Plan. The plan is developed looking forward for six years, and the Council ultimately approves and  authorization for the year one projects in the immediate time frame, with year 2 through 6 being reviewed annually.

I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to becoming involved with the CIP process. I'll include the video here for you to watch, and hope that you review the web site with a full listing of projects. We also have a Google Map of the project locations, and you can review the document itself.

A few points to think about...

First, the City side and the school side requests for bonded monies (projects which require debt financing), equal a request to bond less money than is being retired, or paid off this year. Many of the projects (almost 3M of the City side) are paid for through reserve accounts (savings) or with cash on hand. The biggest chunk of this is paving and maintenance of roadways at a cost of 1.8 million. This is paid for out of the operating budget, and has been the recommended amount of money over the past few years. I suspect, similar to last year, where the Council and Manager reduced that amount to $700,000, that this amount will be reduced.

The formulation process for getting to this point is long and involved, and starts just as the operating budget is being finalized in June. I have developed a project request form, which the various departments within the City use to to request projects. I have encouraged departments not to add new projects until we are sure we can afford the time and money to finish the project. This involves and intial review by the departments to look at their capacity.

Once I have the completed project forms in August, I then make my review. I look at the Master Plan and identify correlations, and ensure that a project is contained within the plan and is prioritized based upon the plan. I also work with the Finance Director to review the funding sources of the projects and make sure that the proposed costs make sense and are in line with previous projects or similar ones currently being undertaken. The Finance Director reviews the projects and ensures that the funding strategies are in line with the City's adopted financial policies. He also completes a financial analysis.

Comparing this year's program to last year's one can see that we took a very sharp look at the plan and moved and removed quite a few projects. Many projects were moved out to at least 2019 and some beyond, in order to make them fanciable. By working to create a scenario where the debt bonded equals the debt retired we were forced to review the merits of many projects and shuffled them around to ensure that a fiscally responsible strategy has been proposed.

Now the real work begins. The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on October 25th and a workshop on the program on November 8th. The Council will take the Planning Board's comments and recommendations and work through a similar process in late November and December.

Please take a minute, review the video, look at the web site, and review our Google Map of the project locations.

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