Capital Improvements Mainly Deferred in 2010
The Capital Plan normally includes items with longterm value, such as fire engines, building repairs, system upgrades and road repairs. A six-year plan offered Thursday by City Administrator Marc Dashield showed just $3.9 million in 2010 capital proposals, out of a six-year total projection of $48 million.
Hard economic times may result in only one $30,000 expense for kitchen repairs at firehouses, even though the Fire Division is seeking $3.1 million in capital projects through 2015. Major expenses such as trucks and vehicle replacement are deferred to 2012 or beyond. An estimated $7 million expense to replace a firehouse floor due to new heavy equipment is listed for only $400,000 in 2015.
Dashield said 2010 projects are mainly grant-funded. Normally, capital projects are funded by bond issuances.
Out of a $4.7 million six-year projected capital budget for Public Works, only $81,000 for a new salt storage facility is listed for 2010. According to a commenter on Plaintalker, the former salt storage facility was demolished and city workers will now have to travel to Union County facilities to obtain salt for winter road conditions.
Economic Development proposals adding up to $3.3 million will see only perhaps $1.2 million take place in 2010, with closed circuit television crime surveillance tabbed at $900,000 and building demolitions funded by Community Development Block Grant Funds listed at $312,500.
Out of $22.3 million for road maintenance over six years, just $1 million is slated for 2010. This program is already way behind. A five-year plan from 2005 was stalled to the point where years were lost and the cosmetic term "Phase II" was used to identify what might have been a much earlier year if the schedule had been followed.
According to a handout from Dashield, budget requests totaling $1.2 million for Information Technology will receive nothing in 2010. The same will apply to Planning Division requests totaling $3.3 million and Recreation Division requests totaling $4.4 million.
The Police Division will fare slightly better, with $601,509 in requests out of a $3.9 million budget being proposed for 2010. The funding would go toward automatic license plate readers, a radio system for the mobile command center, a new model Segway, pole-mounted speed signs, a mobile video camera system and replacement of 10 police vehicles.
Councilman Cory Storch asked whether more energy-efficient police vehicles could be purchased, but Dashield said the Police Division needed heavy-duty vehicles for police patrols.
Councilman Adrian Mapp objected to the high cost per vehicle, around $28,000, but Dashield said the police cars must be fitted out with extra equipment.
Among other news, Dashield said the city-owned Tepper's basement was deemed not adequate to house a closed television surveillance camera operation, so it will be housed at the police station. A building addition or other special accommodations may have to be made.
The city used up a $450,000 grant to make what Dashield termed a "plain vanilla box" just before the grant expired, but no use has yet been established for the space. In answer to City Council President Rashid Burney, Dashield said only trained personnel can monitor the TV screens.
A budget hearing on the FY 2010 introduced budget will take place on Dec. 21. Any amendments must be published before the council holds a second hearing and final passage.