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Public hearing on Chatham County’s updated capital improvement plan set for November 18

Posted Thursday, November 14, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - On November 4, the Chatham County Manager’s Office presented a proposed seven-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) for 2015-21 that includes revisions to several existing projects, including adding more school roof replacements and moving up a new office for Solid Waste & Recycling.

Chatham County invites residents to comment on the plan during a public hearing on Nov. 18 at 6 pm in the Historic Courthouse in Pittsboro. After the public hearing, commissioners will discuss the proposed CIP during a work session on Nov. 19, which begins at 1 pm in the Historic Courthouse.

Copies of the proposed CIP are available on the county website (www.chathamnc.org<http://www.chathamnc.org>) using the Quick Links box at the top-right side of the page. Printed copies will be available in the three county libraries by the afternoon of Nov. 6.

The CIP is adopted annually to provide a long-term plan for funding capital needs, such as facilities, equipment and other projects costing at least $100,000. The CIP considers both capital and operating costs and is the county's major planning tool for projects.

Debt rating agencies consider the adoption of a capital improvements plan a positive factor in determining a county's credit rating. Chatham currently shares the highest bond rating in its population group, AA+/Aa2, with one other county.

In 2006, the county began setting aside funds in a capital reserve, which has allowed the county to issue debt for a number of county facilities when interest rates have been at historic lows and construction costs dropped during the economic downturn.

County Manager Charlie Horne said that the commissioners will review the proposal and could make changes before adopting an updated CIP.

The proposed CIP includes all of the school projects that were in last year’s adopted CIP, but funds repaid by savings in the water capital reserve allowed staff to add $2 million to repair and replace additional school roofs at Bennett, Pittsboro Elementary, Perry Harrison, Siler City, Jordan Matthews, and Northwood.

The funding will also address roofs at the school system’s administration and maintenance buildings. This means that all roofs identified in a 2010 school roof assessment would be addressed within the next five years.

Other items requested as "future projects" by Chatham County Schools may be scheduled in the future, depending on need and the county's ability to fund them. This list includes: expansion of Chatham Middle School; a new northeast elementary school; renovation of high school locker rooms; and replacement gymnasiums at Bennett, Silk Hope and Bonlee schools.

The Board of Education did request that a new joint county bus garage be built as soon as possible at an estimated cost of $8 million. The existing facility was built in the 1950s, is outdated and is too small to manage the size and number of buses the school system has.

To schedule the joint garage in the CIP, the county would have to increase its contribution to the debt reserve by an amount equal to one-half cent on the property tax rate. "Our debt models show that the county cannot absorb the increase and maintain fund balance at acceptable levels without additional revenue. We are closely monitoring revenue growth as the economy improves. We may be able to add the garage at a future date," Horne said.

The largest non-school project added in the proposed CIP is $1.5 million for new financial and personnel management software that will greatly enhance overall efficiency, said Horne. “The software will link two key departments that use related information and will also make sure we continue to comply with state requirements.”

Another new software project would help the county recover its data systems in the event of a disaster. Fund balance would be used for the $106,499 needed to buy the site recovery management software in FY 14.

A new 5,100-square-foot office for Solid Waste & Recycling would begin in FY 2015, instead of FY 2018. The total cost is $1.35 million, with $300,602 saved by moving the project up three years. The facility will consolidate all department staff and the scales in one location, which streamlines the process for customers as well.

Also added this year is a water project that would replace two water mains in FY 2015 at a cost of $789,490, with funding from the water capital reserve.

Several other projects previously in the CIP are slated for changes in their timeline or budgets, based on new information, alternative solutions or recent bids.

 
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Public hearing on Chatham County’s updated capital improvement plan set for November 18
 
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