Planners discuss capital plan

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013

City staff on Tuesday presented a proposed capital improvements plan that includes about $59 million in expenditures during the upcoming fiscal year.

Big-ticket items include $18 million for an operations maintenance facility and $2 million to purchase land in the Shoulders Hill Road area for a combined elementary and middle school campus.

Also included is $10 million to add to the kitty for the Holland Road widening project, which already has $24 million of city and state money to its name.

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“That’s a great project, and I hope we can move as quickly as we can,” Commissioner Jim Vacalis, a former city manager, said during the meeting of the Holland Road project.

The 10-year capital improvements plan, at a total of $693.6 million, has dropped 7 percent from last year’s plan. It lays out spending priorities and funding sources for the next 10 years. The first year of the plan, once approved, becomes part of the budget proposal in the spring.

The new operations facility, which is drawing the biggest chunk of money in the first year of the proposed 10-year plan, will include an operations center for Public Works road maintenance, traffic engineering, refuse collection and stormwater equipment and personnel.

The multi-campus site would be about 60 acres, city Capital Programs and Buildings Director Gerry Jones said.

“This is a concept that has been widely accepted,” he said. “It will assist in the operations of school as far as transportation,” as well as shared services between the schools.

Also included in the first year of the plan is $500,000 for design for the new middle school on the site, which ultimately would cost more than $45 million.

Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said the money available for the Holland Road project should fund the acquisition of about 187 pieces of property needed to widen the road to six lanes from the west end of the bypass west to just past Manning Bridge Road.

The downtown library also shows up in the first year of the plan, with $2 million set for a feasibility study on the potential for a higher education component in the new library, Jones said. An additional $12.6 million for the library is set for the second year of the plan.

Other items in the first year of the plan include $1.5 million for the Bennett’s Creek Recreation Center; $1.3 million to continue expanding the police administration building; and $825,000 to buy a ladder truck for the fire department and put an addition on the Lake Kilby fire station.

The majority of the first-year spending will be financed through debt, with state and federal sources and the city also chipping in with cash.

The Planning Commission will prepare to vote on the plan at its Jan. 21 meeting.