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Board Reviews Revised Capital Improvement Plan
Prince Frederick, MD - 3/2/2012
By Marty Madden
Calvert County could delay nearly $55 million worth of planned capital projects over the next half-dozen years. A revised Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal years (FYs) 2013 - 2018 was presented to the Calvert County Commissioners Feb. 28 during a work session. Julie Paluda, capital projects analyst for the Department of Finance and Budget, presented the latest prioritized list of projects. The prioritizing and deferrals are in response to the sour economy. Still, the six-year CIP contains nearly $216.7 million worth of capital projects. Nearly $27.3 million worth of project funding is in the CIP for FY 2013.
Most of the revenues to be used for the projects are from bond financing. The county is attempting to get the necessary construction, expansion and maintenance projects completed and paid for while staying within its debt affordability parameters, which is 9.6 percent of the county’s general fund.
“Because the debt limit is calculated using estimated revenues, staff is comfortable with the CIP as presented and will closely monitor revenues as the next five years progress,” Paluda stated.
As usual, education will receive the lion’s share of funding for capital projects in FY 2013 ($12.8 million), followed by Public Works/Utilities ($4.5 million), Public Works/Transportation ($3.1 million), Public Safety ($2.8 million) and Public Facilities ($2.4 million). The county plans to spend $643,000 on capital improvements to Chesapeake Hills Golf Course.
Over $9.6 million in county funding is planned for the completion of the Calvert High School replacement project while $1.7 million has been designated for the design phase of the Northern High School (NHS) replacement. Last month, the Calvert Board of Education voted unanimously to embark on a $58 million replacement of NHS.
“I know we deferred Northern High School as long as we can,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R], who used the discussion as an opportunity to vent against the plan of Gov. Martin O’Malley [D] to shift teachers’ pensions from the state to Maryland’s jurisdictions. “I’m annoyed,” said Shaw. “They’re spending more money on school construction but not teachers’ pensions.”
Calvert Supervisor of School Construction George Leah reported state officials have approved Calvert’s priority funding request for the NHS project.
One school project being placed on the back-burner is the plan for either renovating or replacing Beach Elementary School. Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] suggested the county dialogue with officials from the two municipalities—Chesapeake Beach and North Beach—in crafting a strategy for that project. Slaughenhoupt suggested the towns should participate in the funding of project, possibly using revenues from the pull-tab bingo machines for their share.
The commissioners gave indication that more capital projects will be pared from the FY 2013 budget.
“What if we can’t afford everything? We have to cut somewhere,” said Slaughenhoupt.
“We are all just going to have to sit on our hands and wait,” said Commissioner Steven R. Weems [R], in reference to the potential actions of the Maryland General Assembly.
“Obviously, if teacher pensions get dumped on us it’s a whole new ballgame,” said Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R].
“The board will have additional opportunities to review and make changes to the CIP at any time before the budget is adopted in June,” Paluda stated.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com
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