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Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) were up for discussion during last night’s County Council budget hearing. Though the matter was tabled for discussion that will continue Monday, council did take action regarding the community broadband network.
Capital improvement projects that were proposed last year were discussed at great length, however Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne said that there are no new proposed projects in FY 2011, however there are some projects from FY 2010 that are in progress.
“There are no new projects, but that doesn’t mean there is no CIP activity,” Lynne told councilors. “If the council approves a phase two, it goes into projects approved.”
Lynne said that the White Rock Visitors Center, the North Mesa Ball Park lights project and the archival and records center were some examples of CIP projects that are moving forward.
According to county documents, “many of the existing FY 2010 projects have projected budget revisions lowering their budgets. Those will need to be formally approved by council either during budget adoption or as FY 2010 year-end budget revisions.” The CIP fund grand total for the budget prior to FY 2010 was $121,177,055. The FY 2010 Projected including proposed revisions equals $33,778,159, while the FY 2011
proposed CIP budget is $18,230,200.
Councilor Robert Gibson raised some questions during the CIP discussion regarding placeholders in the budget. One such topic was the parking projects listed in the budget. He asked County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro whether or not there were actually any parking projects being considered for which the money would be used. Mortillaro said that while there has been some interest, there hasn’t been any in-depth discussion.
“If there’s no project, we don’t need a budget for it,” Gibson said.
Gibson also grilled Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman about his department’s road projects. ‘You have a program plan, but why isn’t it in here? We’re being asked to appropriate money, but we don’t see a plan,” he said to Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said that the plan could be added, however Gibson seemed unsatisfied with his answer. “We don’t have anything. How can we evaluate enough to determine if we’re going to provide any funds?” he pressed. Zimmerman said simply, “we can provide that.”
Discussion regarding the CIP budget continued until Councilor Michael Wheeler moved to tentatively approve the budget as submitted. Though Councilor Ralph Phelps seconded the motion, he questioned it. “The motion is very generic. I don’t like this approach. There’s insufficient public input,” he said.
After some discussion regarding the motion, Wheeler withdrew it. Phelps then offered a motion to approve a budget of $18.3 million, which was seconded by Councilor Sharon Stover. Gibson then said that he couldn’t approve the motion as presented and moved that the discussion be tabled until Monday. The motion was non-debatable and discussion was suspended.
Gibson then brought up the Community Broadband Project, which he suggested should have a completion date of no later than June 30, 2014. Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, however was not convinced about the path forward.
“I’m concerned about number 5. We need to have a partnership from other communities,” he said.
Councilor Nona Bowman also had reservations about the motion. “If we move forward, I feel like we’re failing the public, so I can’t support this motion,” she said.
Phelps weighed in and said he thought the subject deserved some up-front public discussion, while Wheeler said that he had reservations because “this totally bypassed our CIP process.” Despite some councilors’ concerns, the motion passed 4-3, with Stover, Bowman and Chiravalle voting against it.