For CIP, more is less
City's capital improvements plan includes more street work, but a smaller budget

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

July 6, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs Capital Improvement Program has come a long way since it began in 1997, and the distance can be measured in miles of street construction, street overlays, water mains and sewer mains.

In fiscal year 2005 the CIP program rebuilt 4.4 miles of city streets, did overlay work on another 12.2 miles of streets and laid new plant-mix overlay on almost 40 miles of streets. The program also replaced 9.2 miles of water mains and 10.8 miles of aging and problematic sewer lines at a total cost of $1.92 million dollars.

City Manager Marc Maxwell recapped the CIP program for City Council members Tuesday evening as they considered authorizing funding for next year.

Maxwell told the council the planned CIP for next year, beginning in October, will include six more miles of new plant-mix street resurfacing, almost a mile more of street construction and slightly more water and sewer main replacement at a cost of $1.26 million, down from the $1.92 million that will be expended by the end of the current fiscal year.

Finance Director Peter Karstens said the city had saved money on projects in several previous years, and that extra fund balance will enable more work to be done with less money budgeted.

"We are back down to the average, which is between $750,000 and $820,000 of work we try to do every year on the streets," Karstens explained. "That represents why the street [repair costs] are down."

The decreased requirement for water and sewer work is credited to a move five years ago in which $2.5 million was borrowed in order to speed up work to meet new requirements in a five-year program on sewers and increase the level of expenditure to between $400,000 and $500,000 a year.

"That program is complete," Karstens said. "This year there will be a pretty substantial reduction in the amount of work that we will do, and it will be pretty much out of enterprise fund reserves. Those two issues represent why there is a significant decrease next year."

Water and sewer improvements, while involving more length, are expected to cost $383,800. For the current year, expenditures for water and sewer were more than $841,000. Work on streets, also involving more distance, will see a budget reduction of $190,000.

"On the surface this might seem alarming," Maxwell told the City Council. "However, keep in mind that last year's CIP project list represented a 29 percent increase over the previous year."

The plan for next year includes more than 20 projects, including replacement of 20 manholes, 20 fire hydrants, almost 50 miles of preventative maintenance and resurfacing, drainage work on Lee Street, 800 feet of six-inch water main to replace an old two-inch main on Brinker Street between Kyle and Beasley streets, along with street repairs following replacement of the water line.

The project also calls for sewer work between Church and Jackson streets; 3,500 feet of sewer on Church street; street, drainage and water mains on Cadi and Marrianne streets; water, sewer, drainage and street work repairs along with utilities on Mark Street, Glover and Tate streets; and 1,200 feet of street work on Ramblewood and replacement of Woodbridge Drive next year.

The plan also allows for another $300,000 to be ear-marked for preventative maintenance on various other streets. Total projected CIP costs for 2006, as approved by the council, will amount to $1,269,200.

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