Portland city manager’s capital improvements plan calls for nearly $13 million in new bonds

Portland City Manager Mark Rees is scheduled to deliver his fiscal year 2015 Capital Improvements Plan budget to the City Council’s finance committee Thursday night, when he’ll call for the city to borrow about $12.6 million in the coming year for a variety of projects.

City Manager Mark Rees

City Manager Mark Rees

This is a rolling five-year spending plan that gets updated each year. It can be interesting to look at because these are the city’s big-ticket items with lifespans greater than five years — so in many cases visible things like buildings and firetrucks, as opposed to ink for the office printers and incremental changes to employee benefits.

This graphic, included in Rees’ plan for the coming fiscal year, helps show how the city has divided up its big-money purchases over the course of recent years:

capital funds

Here’s an excerpt from Rees’ FY15 version of the CIP budget distributed by City Hall today to give readers an overview of where the city manager’s priorities settle this time around:

This year’s recommended capital program includes facility improvements including new roofs and windows, repairing the city’s coastal facilities including repairs to Cliff Island Wharf and sections of the waterfront seawall. As well, repairs to school facilities including repairing the masonry at Lincoln Middle School are proposed for funding. Major transportation projects include street paving and sidewalk improvements. Other projects include continuing to replace parking meters with multi-space parking meters. Fleet Vehicle replacements include Medcu Ambulance replacement, police vehicles, and an electric vehicle and accompanying charging station. Contingent on funding, the charging station will be made available for electric vehicle charging to the public at the Elm Street parking garage. Also included the recommended capital plan is the city’s first compressed natural gas vehicle. The Capisic Pond dredging and park habitat improvement project is recommended contingent upon the award of grant funds that will pay at least half of the project’s total cost. Sewer fund projects designed to improve water quality within the Casco Bay and the city’s streams, rivers and ponds as mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act are also included in the plan.

I’ve posted the full document here so you can thumb through it for yourself and see where the money’s going. One thing that stuck out to me is how massive the city’s sewer infrastructure overhaul is going to continue to be, and how much spending those projects are going to eat up for years to come. I wrote comprehensively about the sewer work a few years ago, and while some of the numbers may have changed a bit here and there since then, it’s still a really good explanation of that infrastructure problem. (In case the above hyperlinks aren’t obvious enough, read my sewer system overhaul story by clicking here.)

Without further ado, the city manager’s 2015 CIP budget proposal:

Portland City Manager's 2015 CIP budget

In case you’re wondering about the timeline for the CIP budget, after the Thursday night review by the City Council’s finance committee, that committee will get another look at it on June 26, then forward a version with edits up to the larger City Council for consideration at its July 7 and July 21 meetings. At the July 21 meeting, the councilors will hold a public hearing on the spending plan and, if it passes muster with them after that, give it final passage.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.