The city speaks: City of Marshfield capital improvement planning
By Dan Knoeck
Marshfield Director of Public Works
As the end of the calendar year approaches, many turn their attention to resolutions for 2015. City of Marshfield department and division heads start to prepare for the annual update of our five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
The purpose of the CIP is to provide a decision-making process for the evaluation, selection, and multiyear scheduling of public improvements
based on a projection of available fiscal resources and the community’s priorities. The adopted CIP serves as the basis for establishing which capital projects get included in the annual budget.
Shortly after the 2015 budget was approved, city staff started looking to the future by identifying capital projects that are likely to become necessary in the next five-year window from 2016 through 2020. In December and January, staff works to develop project scope, justification, and cost estimates with the goal of submitting their recommendations to the City Administrator’s office by early February.
The requested projects are then tabulated and assembled into a workbook that is used by the CIP Administrative Committee to prioritize projects. The CIP Committee is made up of the mayor, four aldermen, a City Plan Commission member, and a citizen member.
The CIP Committee starts by establishing goals for expenditures in each of the five years of the plan. Spending goals are based on financial projections and outstanding debt level assessments developed by the finance department.
There are two primary funding sources for capital projects: borrowed funds, otherwise known as debt, and property taxes, also known as operating funds. In the city’s previously adopted 2015 to 2019 CIP, the goal for debt was $2.5 million per year, and for operating funds the goal was $608,000 per year. There are other funding sources for capital projects that can vary considerably from year to year.
Once spending goals are set, the CIP Committee must prioritize projects to match requests with anticipated funding. This is no easy task as there are always many worthy projects and typically not enough funding to go around.
As a result, several projects get delayed to beyond the five-year window. Once projects have been prioritized and funding goals met, the CIP Committee recommends the plan to the Board of Public Works and the City Plan Commission for review and concurrence. The plan ultimately gets referred to the Common Council for adoption, which usually occurs in April, just in time to start the annual budget process in May.
All CIP Committee meetings are open to the public, televised by Marshfield Community Television, and archived on the city of Marshfield website for future viewing. Public input during the CIP process is encouraged and welcomed. The adopted five-year plan is also available on the city’s website, ci.marshfield.wi.us.