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The CIP is a dynamic instrument that may change from year to year as infrastructure needs in the city are identified. Basically, the preparation, approval and financing process for the CIP are:
First, the city prepares the multi-year planning document based on all known information about particular projects. Project categories are developed for buildings, school facilities, sewers, streets, etc.
The next step is to request City Council adoption of a resolution approving the CIP. This is an important step that indicates that the city has identified certain infrastructure needs. It does not mean that all projects will be accomplished within the time frames shown in the planning document. Project timing may change for a variety of reasons such as alternative ways to get the project accomplished, need for the project and cost. The City Council has total flexibility to accept, reject or modify projects in the plan.
Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) changes require a different procedure. Upon the recommendation of the city Manager, the City Council may amend the Capital Improvements Plan by a majority of affirmative vote. The CIP is not a formal budget. Appropriations are made on a project-by-project basis only. Only the first year of the plan is approved by City Council on an annual basis. This provides the City Council with flexibility in executing the plan and the ability to add to the CIP with unprogrammed projects as necessary.
If you have any questions, please email Budget and Evaluation.
Financing projects is similar to a homeowner’s mortgage. The city borrows a large sum of cash to pay for projects and then repays it with interest over a long period of time, generally 20 years. The amount repaid each year is called debt service. The general purpose behind the use of long-term debt for financing capital projects is that these facilities will last for many years so that current taxpayers will not have to absorb the full cost of their construction. Borrowing also serves to smooth the cost impact of large expensive structures (such as a school or fire station) over more than the facility’s shorter construction period.
Before the city can borrow the funds or even commit to begin a project, State law requires that several steps be complied with.
The State requires that a public hearing be conducted on a bond authorization by the City Council. A bond authorization indicates an amount of funds that the city intends to borrow (at some time in the future) to pay for capital projects. A notice (advertisement) that the public hearing will be held by the City Council must be advertised in the newspaper twice during the 2-week time period before the public hearing is actually held. The advertisement lists the amount of funds that the city intends to borrow (at some time in the future) and provides an estimate of the amount of money by category that it intends to spend on capital projects. The public hearing gives citizens an opportunity to express their views about the city’s intention to incur additional debt for capital projects.
If the bond authorization is not approved, capital projects can only be done when the city has saved enough money to pay cash for the project.
If the bond authorization is approved by the City Council, it signifies that the city will use bonds as the fund source to pay for projects up to the amount of the bond authorization. It does not mean that the city intends to sell bonds immediately or even in the very near future. Generally, the city only sells bonds when the cash is needed and when market conditions are the most favorable (lowest interest rates) for the city to borrow the money.
Approval of funding is called an “appropriation.” When an appropriation of funds is made, construction or whatever work the project calls for may start. Once the work begins, the city is generally committed to doing the project and eventually selling bonds. If you have any questions, please email Budget and Evaluation.
This procedure is in the best interest of the city as it maximizes the use of the city’s available cash. Bond sales are timed to market conditions (interest rates) and actual cash needs. Actual cash needs are determined by the amount of funds that have been expended on individual capital projects.
If the CIP is approved, the financing process can be summarized as: