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Chatham commissioners approve 7-year capital improvement plan

Posted Friday, December 16, 2011

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Pittsboror, NC - On December 5, 2011, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a seven-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) after making a few revisions to the plan proposed by the County Manager’s Office. The approved CIP for 2013-19 includes several new school projects for funding and keeps the proposed new high school in northeast Chatham on track to open in 2016.

After a public hearing on Nov. 21 and a board work session on the CIP on Nov. 30, the Board of Commissioners approved the CIP with the following changes:

  • Delayed the emergency services storage building construction another year to give staff time to explore other alternatives for storage, including the current jail and the new jail site.
  • Added a library branch in the northeastern part of the county as a future project with no specified timeline.
  • Retained the renovation of the Courthouse Annex after the new Judicial Center is completed, but asked staff to explore ways to reduce the cost and bring those ideas back to the Board of Commissioners. When court functions currently housed in the Annex are moved to the Judicial Center, the county will renovate the space to house several severely overcrowded county offices.

“We felt that the overall CIP presented by the County Manager’s Office was on target, but we did make some changes that are primarily focused on looking for additional cost savings,” said Commissioner Chairman Brian Bock. “We also want to keep a library branch in the northeastern part of the county on the radar given the population in this area. Hopefully we can add this to the schedule when we identify funding sources.”

The commissioners clarified by vote that they will discuss how to fund all of the projects in the CIP at their upcoming retreat in January. The County Manager’s Office had noted that the current CIP will require a one-cent increase in the property tax rate or an equivalent amount of funding from other sources, such as budget cuts or revisions to the CIP projects.

The adopted CIP keeps the new high school on target to open in 2016 and other school projects from last year’s CIP were retained. However, several new school projects in the CIP are:

  • Replacement of heating and air conditioning units in all three high school gyms, estimated at $1 million, using funds left over from the construction of Margaret B. Pollard Middle School;
  • Traffic improvements at North Chatham Elementary to reduce congestion on Lystra Road, estimated at $265,000;
  • New restrooms for football stadiums at Jordan-Matthews and Northwood High Schools and new softball field restrooms at Chatham Central High School, estimated at $1.3 million, using funds left over from construction of Margaret B. Pollard Middle School;
  • Replacement of indoor bleachers at J. S. Waters, Moncure and Horton schools estimated at $272,250; and
  • New roofs for SAGE Academy and the school administrative offices, at a cost of $1,174,605(part of a system-wide roofing assessment plan conducted last year).

The funds left over from Margaret B. Pollard Middle School also will fund the new roof at J.S. Waters School, which was already in the county’s CIP.

The CIP includes several future unscheduled school system projects, based on securing additional funding or documenting need:

  • A new joint county/school garage;
  • An expansion of Chatham Middle School;
  • A new elementary school in the northeast; and
  • Replacement of gyms at Bennett, Silk Hope, and Bonlee.

Several non-school county projects added to the CIP this year are:

  • A backup location for 911 dispatch communications, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million (nearly all funding will come from state-collected funds for 911 and public safety);
  • Replacement voting equipment, at an estimated cost of $600,000;
  • Increased computer data storage, at an estimated cost of $650,000;
  • Centralized phone system to connect all county departments, at an estimated cost of $400,000;
  • Initial planning with regional partners to build a water intake and treatment plant on the west side of Jordan Lake, at an estimated cost of $2.2 million (funded from water capital reserves); and
  • Financial software for Water Utilities, at estimated cost of $100,000.
 
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