What’s a CIP and why do we have one?
The City of Fullerton’s Engineering Department webpage does not offer an easily found answer as to what the CIP is or why one exists. However, the currently proposed 5-year CIP or Capital Improvement Program says that “the CIP is a planning tool for short- and long-term capital improvements and development.” The CIP continues, adding “It links Fullerton’s fiscal planning process to physical development. “ I look at it as the 5-year budget plan for the City’s infrastructure.
According to the proposed 5-year CIP, the City projects spending $46,060,450 for 2011-12 and $32,866,050 for 2012-13, with a five=year total of $206,920,550. The Fullerton Redevelopment Agency has a projected five-year total of $6,020,000.
As you can see, these are not exactly small figures and therefore should not be taken lightly.
The funding sources include property taxes and various excise taxes attached to services.
More importantly, what does it cover? What will get fixed?
One of the first things Fullerton residents and business owner’s hope will get covered are the City’s roads. Rest assured, the roads are addressed in the CIP but not as fast or frequent as many of us might like.
To understand the road repair portion we have to look at what constitutes our streets. There are curbs, gutters, sidewalks, asphalt, trees, and all of those utilities.
Of the $46,060,450 for 2011-12 about $4,043,000 is to be spent on resurfacing existing roadways. About $270,000 will cover curbs and gutters. Last year Mayor Pro Tem Bankhead said that Redevelopment funds pay for those sidewalks around town that need repair. The Redevelopment Agency’s total planned contribution towards curbs and gutters is just $20,000. And of the $4,043,000 to be spent on resurfacing our roads, $1,000,000 is from the Redevelopment Agency.
Now let’s consider our water system and keep in mind two things: 1) our water rates will increase at least 7.8% in just the next year; 2) the CIP does NOT include the rate increase; 3) there is 10%-11% that is skimmed from our water bills to cover general funding obligations like police, parks, and fire in the form of a franchise tax. The tax amounted to $2.5-million last year that does not go back into our water system. The total projected spending for the water system is $1,600,000 for 2011-12. Now imagine taking that $2,500,000 that is diverted each year and put it back into the water system. That would give us $4,100,000 to invest in our water system without having to raise water rates.
Now let’s look at what many taxpayers might consider pork. Here is a short itemized list of proposed expenditures of the next 2 fiscal years:
$60,000 - Target Retrieval System for the gun range at the Police Department
$155,000 – Duane Winters Field Fence Replacement (this is the baseball field across from City Hall. The Flyers are in negotiations to use the field for their independent league)
$350,000 – To design and install a pump to circulate water used for the spray ground at Valencia Park.
$150,000 – “Safety enhancements” at various public facilities.
$25,000 – “Public Art Program” from Redevelopment Agency
$183,000 – Replace gates and fencing at Basque Yard (Director Hoppe noted at last week’s Planning Commission meeting that the gates are poorly designed and require constant maintenance. Nice to know we got our money’s worth!)
$158,600 – “Downtown Plaza Stage Improvements”
So, if we aren’t spending all of our CIP on roads and the water system, then where is it going?
Aside from some of the “pork” noted above $40,417,450 will go into the 57FWY/Chapman intersection ($238,000) as well as widening Bastanchury east of St. Jude ($625,000) and the grade separations ($28,800,000There is also the sewer system which will receive about $4,500,000.
Looking over all of these items and funds I am compelled to ask the question WHY? Why are we allocating $50,000 for window coverings for one of our newest facilities while our water system is crumbling and we are looking at closing the Hunt Branch Library?
A similar question was asked to Public Works Director Don Hoppe who responded by saying that these allocations represent the standard maintenance and replacement plan for these facilities. It’s a good answer if we applied a similar philosophy to our countless roads, waterlines, street lights, etc. Unfortunately, it looks like we are not thinking outside the box when it comes to investing in our infrastructure. It will take City Council Members and a City Manager with courage to take a hard look at the budget and make sensible decisions that reflect prioritized needs. I’m not holding my breath…