No new debt proposed in NK capital plan for next year
New Kent will not be sinking deeper into debt next year under a proposed Capital Improvement Plan unveiled last week before the county’s Planning Commission.
The proposal presented by County Administrator John Budesky to planners at the commission’s Jan. 22 meeting lists close to $20 million in spending for the next fiscal year (2008-09) beginning July 1. But of that total, only $2 million will require local tax dollars.
“Our goal is to cash-fund the CIP and not to borrow money,” Budesky said in a separate interview. “I have $2 million available for one-time projects, and that’s why we’re recommending cash-funding for these projects.”
Topping the list of next year projects is almost $17.3 million for public utilities. More than $15.3 million of that amount is targeted for expanding the county’s Parham Landing Wastewater Treatment Plant.
But paying that part of the bill calls for no local money. Most of the bill will be paid by Farms of New Kent CDA (Community Development Authority) money, Budesky said, while the remainder falls under an enterprise fund whereby water/sewer customers pay through connection and user fees.
Spending in next year’s proposed capital plan falls far below the $97.1 million approved for the current fiscal year. Most of the current spending entails completion of the county’s water/sewer system plus work at the Parham Landing plant along with construction of the new high school.
In devising next year’s plan, however, Budesky was unable to meet every spending request forwarded by county departments.
“I had to cut over $6 million in requests to try to meet our goal of not borrowing,” he said. “We have to be responsible stewards of the county taxpayers’ dollars.”
Perhaps the biggest loser under Budesky’s proposal is the county’s school system. In December, the School Board forwarded a plan that listed just over $3.2 million in capital projects for next year. Budesky’s recommendation totals just over $268,000 targeted only for bus/car replacement and covering part of an expected cost increase for converting the existing high school to a middle school.
Pushed back into the following year (2009-10) is the school system’s request for $2 million for architectural, engineering, and site work on a new 80,000 square-foot elementary school. Total estimated cost is $20 million. School officials had hoped to build the school in 2009-10, but Budesky’s recommendation pushes construction work back another year to 2010-11.
School officials had also requested a $500,000 field house for the high school along with $250,000 for bleachers and fencing at the school’s football stadium, but both projects are delayed another year under Budesky’s proposal.
“My plan can’t recommend the revenue for [starting a new elementary school],” Budesky said. “If we can’t fund a project, it gets pushed back, and until we can reduce our current debt, the Board of Supervisors is unlikely to take on more debt.
“But that doesn’t mean that at some point the School Board might ask the Board of Supervisors to reconsider,” he said. “This is just my recommendation. Groups can petition for change or the Planning Commission could recommend changes.”
Also pushed back one year into 2009-10 is a $1.2 million request for a new county animal shelter. New to the plan for 2008-09, however, is $133,200 for computer replacement in county offices.
Commission members, meanwhile, will be studying Budesky’s proposal over the next month in preparation for a public hearing on the plan, scheduled for the group’s Feb. 19 meeting.
The overall plan covers the next five years through 2012-13 and totals almost $98.5 million. The plan, however, is revised on a yearly basis with proposed projects moved up or back according to need and availability of funding.
Other projects of note proposed over the next five years include:
–$4.5 million for a new public library building in the 15,000 to 20,000 square-foot range (2009-10);
–$6.5 million to convert the old middle school buildings into office space (spread over 2009-10 and 2010-11);
–$6.5 million for a New Kent County YMCA (spread over three years starting in 2009-10);
–$3.5 million for a county administration annex (2011-12);
–$6.15 million for three new fire stations with the first ($2.2 million) slated for 2009-10, the second ($2.2 million) placed in 2010-11, and the third ($1.75 million) relegated to 2012-13.
–$6 million for middle school expansion (2012-13).