Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Shall We do with the CIP Money Left Over?

It seems everyone has an opinion on how to use the $3.8 million that is unreserved and undesignated in the sales and use tax fund. 

The mayor's administration has suggested that maybe the $3.8 million  be used as a down payment for the Event Center.  The city council asked the administration to identify uses for this money related to the city's infrastructure and equipment needs.

The city's finance director outlined how to best utilize the excess funds in the capital program in 2011:
  • .8 million at the Arena for a scoreboard lighting system. This item was not identified in the 2010-2014 CIP project needs, nor was it programmed in the 2011-2015 CIP. This is a new expenditure need and has been discussed at city council meetings earlier this year after the Summit League Tournament.

  • 1.2 million for street improvements, specifically 41st Street from Western to Minnesota, Minnesota Avenue from 22nd Street to I-229, and Marion Road from Madison to 60th Street. The Street Department lists two projects in the 2011-2015 CIP related to street improvements, one for overlay and seal coating of asphalt streets and one for concrete pavement restoration and joint replacement. The program dollars for the asphalt road repairs in 2011 are $6,127,500 and $1,960,000 for concrete pavement restoration. Have all these dollars been expended or obligated already which is requiring the additional 1.2 million to be identified as a need?

  • .1 million for the Fire Department's Headquarters Parking Lot. This project need was not identified or programmed in the 2011-2015 CIP.

  • .2 million for Siouxland Libraries, specifically the Ronning Branch library parking lot and the Caille Branch HVAC. The Ronning Branch parking lot repair is not programmed as a project need in the 2011-2015 CIP. However, there is a project programmed in 2011 for $26,000 to replace the HVAC unit at Ronning that is 16 years old. The 2011-2015 CIP lists a project for 2011 in the amount of $26,600 to upgrade the Caille Branch HVAC so why this is identified as a use for the undesignated sales and use tax is confusing.

  • .3 million for Carnegie Town Hall to replace the roofing system, window lintel repair, and tuck pointing. It is interesting to note that $79,000 for this project was programmed in the 2010-2014 CIP for plan year 2011 but this money was cut for 2011 in the 2011-2014 CIP.  The majority of this improvement project was programmed in 2012 in the 2011-2015 CIP. If this project is already programmed 2012 why is it being suggested now?

  • 1.1 million for City Hall HVAC repairs. This repair project was originally programmed at $595,000 for 2012 in the 2010-2014 CIP. This project was cut all together in the 2011-2015 Capital plan.
The sales and use tax fund accounts for the second penny sales tax and is used to fund general capital projects including highway and streets, parks and recreation and other capital infrastructure and equipment needs of the city.

In my opinion, the first priority for these dollars should be to take care of current infrastructure and building maintenance needs and secondly to plan for future infrastructure needs related to growth that impact streets, parks & recreation, future fire stations, etc.  "Wants" come third after those needs are met.

At the end of 2010, the city's financial report stated that the sales and use tax fund experienced a positive $.8 million change in the fund balance, ending with a balance of $27 million. $8.4 million of that balance was unreserved. Of that unreserved $8.4 million balance, $4.6 million was designated for capital projects that will be carried forward into 2011. That left the $3.8 million unreserved and unobligated that everyone is talking about how to spend.

Spend this unreserved, unobligated money on current needs related to general capital projects. Preserving current buildings and taking care of facilities maintenance needs should never be compromised for "wants." It is a very short sighted approach to maintaining the city's current building and maintenance needs.

Deteriorating streets need to be fixed. If all the money programmed in the CIP for 2011 is not enough to fix these deteriorating streets, then unreserved, unobligated reserve money should be used for this purpose.

The city needs to care for existing infrastructure and maintenance needs before it starts dreaming how to use the money for something that is not even built yet.


  1. What I don't understand is, don't the City Council members review the CIP? I thought Councilor Erpenbach said she would have to support repairs to the Carnegie out of this money. If it's already in the budget, her comment makes no sense to take it out of the 3.8 M unreserves now?

  2. Why wasn't more of this going on during the Munson administration when we had record sales tax revenue? Oh, that's right, he wanted to spend it on WANTS. I drive thru Pettigrew heights on my way to work everyday, great shortcut. I lived in that area for 10 years before I bought my house 8 years ago. The streets look like the roads in London after the Nazis bombed them during WWII. These are residential streets. They can't figure out why these hoods are deteriorating yet they can't keep up with simple resurfacing. We need a new EC like we need a hole in our heads.

  3. How bout giving the good, good people who work for this great, great city a cost of living adjustment. The Mayor says we are in the top 2%, are recession proof, and are doing great financially. For the price of the events center study, all city workers could have a 2%COLA, not a raise, but a Cola.