Draft NK capital spending plan under tight scrutiny
New Kent’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan covering the next five fiscal years shows a $92.2 million bottom line in spending projects. But in a time when fiscal restraint is key, county residents can expect to see many of the listed projects changed, deleted, or deferred far into the future.
County Planning Commission members got a first look at the plan, courtesy of county administrator Cabell Lawton, during their Monday night meeting. Of interest to the planners is what’s in store for the next fiscal year, 2011-12.
The draft plan lists just over $10 million in projects for next year, as requested by various county departments. Lawton told planners they should anticipate major surgery on the document before it heads to public hearing and a commission recommendation, probably in January.
“These are requests only. [The proposed projects] have not been evaluated or reduced by the county’s budget team,” he told commission members, promising to return later with a revised plan that includes county administration recommendations.
“There’s over $92 million for the next five years. That’s a high number for a county of 18,000,” he said.
Earlier, county schools got the message. Only $366,000 in school projects — bus and car replacement and half of the cost to renovate the playground at Watkins Elementary — appears in next year’s column.
But big-ticket items abound elsewhere, including $2 million for part of the cost for building a county YMCA, a parks and recreation department request for close to $1.4 million slated for county parks development and upgrades, $1.75 million in fire/rescue requests with the bulk ($913,000) slated for ambulance replacement, and $1.2 million for a new animal shelter.
“We wanted you to see what’s being recommended by department heads,” Lawton told planners.
“We’re going to look at the operations side a little more closely and make operating costs part of our evaluation,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
In other matters Monday night, the commission voted 6-2 with one abstention to recommend Board of Supervisors’ approval for amending county law governing the time limit for a county-issued conditional use permits to become operational.
Under current law, if a CUP applicant does not put the measure into effect within one year, the permit goes away, county community development director George Homewood told planners.
“One year is unworkable in this economy,” he said. “It takes a lot more than one year for some CUP applicants.”
The proposed amendment eliminates the one-year deadline and allows county planning staff to recommend a suitable expiration date based on information provided by the applicant. Staff would then make a recommendation to commission members who would then forward their recommendation to supervisors, who have final say.
“The timeframe should be short enough to move the project forward, but reasonable enough to get the project operational within a particular time,” Homewood said.
Commission members Howard Gammon and George Gregory cast dissenting votes. Stran Trout, supervisors’ representative on the commission, abstained, opting to cast his vote when supervisors consider the matter next month.