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City OKs portion of CIP

Washington’s City Council on Monday approved the fiscal year 2012-2013 component of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, but that doesn’t guarantee all of them will be funded.

That component, which includes the general fund, stormwater fund, water fund, sewer fund, electric fund, airport fund, solid-waste fund and the cemetery fund, carries a $5,413,000 price tag for 44 projects. It is possible that some of those projects will not be completed or even started in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Approval of the 2012-2013 part of the CIP came when the council approved items on its consent agenda. Council members did not discuss the CIP at their meeting Monday, but they did discuss it at meetings earlier this year.

The CIP projects proposed capital expenditures over five-year periods. The council reviews it yearly, and, if needed, it is revised.

“I think we’re still going to take a look at them,” Councilman Doug Mercer said Wednesday.

That look likely would come when the council begins deliberations on the 2012-2013 budget.

“I still have some concerns about some areas. I think we are going to have to discuss some of those projects and see if we want to pursue them,” Mercer said.

Mercer has concerns the city may not take in enough revenue to fund all the 2012-2013 CIP projects, or other city services, programs and project.

“Our general fund revenues have not kept up with our projections,” Mercer said, noting the city’s revenues have not come in as expected in the past five years.

In several prior council meetings, Mayor Archie Jennings has said that although a project may be in the CIP, that doesn’t mean it will be funded.

The council approved $1,636,000 for 17 general-fund projects, which were prioritized by City Manager Josh Kay. The No. 1 general-fund priority is acquiring a new fire truck to replace an older one at a budgeted cost of $350,000. The No. 2 general-fund priority is replacing the decking at the Washington Civic Center at a budgeted cost of $125,000. Among the other 17 general-fund priority projects are restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway ($300,000), replacing a street sweeper ($240,000) and adding an adult softball field at the McConnell Sports Complex ($102,000).

The electric fund’s 12 CIP projects for the 2012-2013 fiscal year carry a budgeted cost of $1,245,000. Most of those projects are related to improving Washington Electric Utilities’ power transmission/distribution system. The No. 1 priority project in the electric fund is replacing a bucket truck at a budgeted cost of $200,000.

The No. 1 priority project in the water fund is installing a parallel water line at the city’s water-treatment plant near Beaufort County Community College at a budgeted cost of $675,000. The water fund’s five CIP projects for the upcoming fiscal year carry a budgeted cost of  $1,095,000.

The stormwater fund has one capital project in the upcoming fiscal year, replacing a 1998 pickup truck at a budgeted cost of $30,000.

The sewer fund’s four projects scheduled for the 2012-2013 fiscal year carry a budgeted cost of $667,000, with the No. 1 priority project being the purchase of a lift-station generator at a budgeted cost of $32,000. The most-expensive project, work on the lift station at the intersection of Water and Bonner streets, carries a budgeted cost of $500,000.

The airport fund’s two projects for the upcoming fiscal year include drainage improvements, the top priority, at a budgeted cost of $383,000. The other project calls for spending $167,000 in Vision 100 grant funding for other improvements at the airport. The projects combined carry at budgeted cost of $550,000.

The cemetery fund’s two projects in the upcoming fiscal year carry a budget cost of $50,000. The projects are replacing a 2001 pickup truck ($15,000) and a 1996 two-ton dump truck ($35,000).

The solid-waste fund’s only CIP project in the upcoming year is replacing a rear-load garbage truck at a budgeted cost of $140,000.

Mercer said he appreciates Kay prioritizing CIP projects in the general fund, water fund, electric fund, stormwater fund, solid-waste fund, airport fund, sewer fund and cemetery fund. That prioritization better helps the council address CIP needs, he said.

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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