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Council tweaks CIP

During its review of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan on Monday, Washington’s City Council determined that items it considers maintenance related would be removed from the CIP.

Those items will be relocated to appropriate cost centers, including the city’s general fund and enterprise funds.

Council members and the mayor also discussed retooling the CIP to make it a more-effective document.

“A CIP, as I recognize it, is not a document that’s cast in concrete, but it’s sort of in putty so you can adjust it as the times goes,” said Councilman Doug Mercer. “I am a little concern when I look at the document that I got, and I compared it to last year’s CIP and I found that there are over 20 brand-new projects that are listed in this year’s CIP that were not listed anywhere in the five-year plan last year. I’m a little concerned that the staff can’t think forward more than 12 months. If we’re going to put together a five-year plan, that five-year plan, to me, ought to be a little more concrete or a little more fixed than just that first 12 months.”

Mayor Archie Jennings said Mercer raised a good point.

“I think what you are seeing, though, is a reflection of our rule that it can’t be in the budget if it’s not in the CIP,” Jennings said. “What we’ve got is kind of a backwards mechanics taking place there, where something appeared or came into focus after the five-year plan — and at least bears consideration in the budget — then we feel like we’ve got to get it in the CIP so it can be considered in the budget. We’ve essentially got to retool our process here so we can accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish.”

City Manager Josh Kay, saying he agreed with Mercer, said, “The CIP needs to be much more than just a budget document. It needs to be a planning document, a planning tool, which is why in the fall I would like to take a good, hard look at those multiple years out.”

Councilman Bobby Roberson voiced one of his concerns with the CIP: specifically proposed expenditures in the third year of the current CIP.

“The question I have is where the revenue source is going to come from in order to meet that. I don’t have a problem with the added items. The question is where are we going to get the money to fund it. You guys (staff) have got to help us out with that,” Roberson said.

Mercer also called for the CIP, which is supposed to be updated every year, to address capital needs beyond its current five-year window. Mercer said he would prefer a CIP that addresses needs for the next 10 years, if not one that address needs for 20 years.

The current CIP carries a price tag of $49.3 million, if all its proposed projects were funded during its five-year window.

Kay presented his prioritized list of CIP projects he recommends be funding in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1. For the most part, those general-fund projects are “must-have” projects, he said.

Those projects include, but are not limited to, replacing the decking at the Civic Center, building restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway, a new fire-rescue truck and adding adult softball fields to the city-owned McConnell Sports Complex next to Warren Field Airport.

Kay also presented a prioritized list of projects associated with improving Washington Electric Utilities’ power distribution system.

The council charged Kay with going through the CIP and developing a priorities list for the city various funds — water, sewer and the like — and submitting those lists to it.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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