CIP helps county plan budgetsPublished 8:52pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, during its two-day retreat last month, was told that having a capital-improvement plan will help the board and county officials better manage the county’s fiscal affairs when it comes to major building projects and equipment purchases.
That message was delivered to the board by County Manager Randell Woodruff and Jim Chrisman, assistant county manager and chief financial officer for the county. Woodruff told the commissioners that having a capital-improvement plan provides needed guidance when he and other staff members begin preparing county budgets.
Capital-improvement plans spell out what major capital projects are needed, when they should occur and provide information related to estimated costs of the projects. A capital-improvement plan helps the county plan for debt service related to those projects over a multi-year period. Many capital-improvement plans are for five years, but some look at capital projects during 10-year or 20-year time frames.
The board adopted its 2013-2018 capital-improvement plan July 1, 2013. The capital-improvement plan is the first one adopted by the county.
The capital-improvement plan promotes a pay-as-you-go policy, when possible, on major capital projects. That means the county would try to avoid borrowing money to pay for a project. The county can issue general-obligation bonds and limited obligation bonds to pay for major projects. The county also can seek grant funding and private contributions to pay for projects. The county also has the option of dipping into its fund balance (rainy-day fund) to help pay for projects.
The current capital-improvement plan indicates an estimated $34.5 million is needed to fund all projects in the plan. The plan includes $20 million for a new jail. It includes $6 million to help pay for connecting the county’s water systems.
There is a process that determines which projects make the capital-improvement plan.
“The proposed plan for the CIP presentation and adoption process involves the County Manager reviewing and studying all items submitted by the department heads and then developing a recommended plan that will be forwarded to the Board of Commissioners. After a recommended plan has been presented to the Board, a public hearing is held to receive citizen input. Then the recommended plan is finalized by a resolution of the Board with the intent to include the first years projects in the annual budget,” reads a memorandum concerning the capital-improvement plan.