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Planning Commission votes to support Capital Improvements plan

Monday, July 25, 2011 by Josh Rosenblatt

The Planning Commission has signed off on FY2012 recommendations for the city’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP) plan, despite requests for some $180 million in projects for which there is no current funding.


The five-year plan, updated annually, itemizes the major capital improvements occurring and planned for Austin. The Planning Commission’s CIP subcommittee and the newly formed Capital Planning Office made recommendations for capital funding based on city department requests and prioritized lists from adopted neighborhood plans from around the city.


According to Kimberly Springer, the city’s capital budget manager, in the FY12 draft CIP plan, general government departments have requested $137.5 million in new appropriations while enterprise departments have requested $128 million. The sources of funding for those requests are already known: for example, the 2006 bond package or the 2010 transportation bond package.


Then there are the numerous requests to pay for projects for which there is no current funding, only need. General government departments have made $174.8 million in unfunded requests, said Springer, and enterprise departments have made $3.4 million. Funding for those projects, if approved, could come from possible future bonds or state or federal grants.


The list of recommendations includes projects requested by the city’s general government departments – like the police, fire, health and human services, and parks and recreation departments – and its enterprise departments, such as the Austin Water Utility and Solid Waste Services.


Nearly all of the more than 30 projects delineated in the Planning Commission’s recommendations would address infrastructure issues in the Hyde Park, Crestview/Wooten Combined, and North Lamar Combined neighborhoods. They include completing the sidewalk system on both sides of Speedway in Hyde Park ($180,000, estimated); adding bike lanes on Lamar Boulevard in the Crestview/Wooten area ($70,000, estimated); and installing drinking fountains at Barrington Park in the North Lamar Combined neighborhood (cost to be determined).


In addition to approving the plan as written by staff, the commission is also recommending three specific projects to be addressed by Council in the CIP budget: meeting currently unfunded security and infrastructure requests by the Library Department; infrastructure improvements in Hyde Park at the intersection of Duval and 43rd streets; and infill on East 12th and around all Capital Metro Red Line stations, particularly the Saltillo Plaza, Highland Mall, and Kramer stations.


All told, in addition to $4.7 billion in appropriations for capital projects, including $3 billion already appropriated for ongoing projects and another $1.7 billion for new projects or projects that are continuing into FY2016, the CIP plan also includes $421 million in unfunded project requests to meet identified capital improvement needs.


There was almost no debate about recommending the draft CIP plan to Council. The commission voted 7-0 in favor, with Commissioner Danette Chimenti absent.

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