Planning Commission OKs Capital Plan

The city of Ann Arbor’s capital improvements plan (CIP), which provides a roadmap for investments in a wide variety of infrastructure projects, was approved by Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Dec. 3, 2013 meeting. The CIP is prepared by city staff and is the basis for budget decisions made by the city council, but the council does not approve the CIP. That’s the purview of the planning commission.

The planning commission’s meeting also included a public hearing on the CIP, but no one spoke.

Required by state statute, the CIP must be developed and updated each year, looking ahead at a six-year period, to help with financial planning for major projects – permanent infrastructure like buildings, utilities, transportation and parks. It’s intended to reflect the city’s priorities and needs, and serves as a guide to discern what projects are on the horizon.

The updated plan covers the fiscal years 2015-2020, and includes a list of major capital projects, both those that are funded and those for which funding hasn’t yet been identified. [.pdf of staff memo and CIP for FY 2015-2020] The plan indicates changes in scheduling compared to the previous CIP, as well as funding adjustments and new projects. In the report, new projects are indicated with gray shading.  This year the gray shading primarily reflects first-time inclusion of projects undertaken by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the Ann Arbor housing commission.

The DDA’s projects are included this year due in part to an ordinance change approved by the city council on Nov. 18, 2013 which added, among other language: “The authority shall submit their capital budgets to incorporate them into the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP).”

The CIP contains over 300 projects in 13 different asset categories. Of those, 127 projects require funding in FY 2014 – the current fiscal year, which began on July 1, 2013 – or in FY 2015. Funding needed in FY 2015 totals $62.253 million. That’s $11,881,800 (23.59%) more in FY 2015 than was included in last year’s CIP. But most of that increase is due to the addition of the DDA and housing projects. If those projects weren’t included, funding needs for FY 2015 would have dropped by 27.55%, That’s because many FY15 street construction projects were pushed back to FY 2016 or later to allow time to develop a pavement asset management program.

The housing commission projects primarily relate to an effort to renovate and redevelop the city’s public housing properties. [See Chronicle coverage: "Work Progresses on Public Housing Overhaul."] Highlights of FY 2015 projects by the DDA include $2.5 million for elevators in the Fourth and William parking structure, $600,000 for a first-floor build-out of the Fourth and William parking structure, $250,000 for a South University streetscape project, $50,000 for vehicle charging stations, and $30,000 for crosswalk repairs in the DDA district.

Deb Gosselin, who oversees the CIP process, was on hand to field questions from commissioners. After about an hour of discussion, commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the 2015-2015 CIP as a supporting document for the city’s master plan, and to recommend that the city council base its FY 2015 capital budget on the CIP.

This brief was filed from the second floor council chambers at city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]