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Chatham County schedules public hearing about proposed seven-year capital plan

Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - On November 7, the Chatham County Manager’s Office presented a proposed seven-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) for 2013-19 that includes several new school projects for funding and keeps the proposed new high school in northeast Chatham on track to open in 2016.

Residents are invited to comment on the proposed seven-year plan during a public hearing slated for November 21 at 6 pm in the Agriculture Auditorium in Pittsboro. The proposed CIP can be found on the county website:click here. Printed copies will be available at the libraries in Pittsboro, Siler City and Goldston by the end of Nov. 8.

After the hearing, the Board of Commissioners will discuss the proposed CIP during a special work session on Nov. 30 at 9 am on the second floor of 964 East Street in Pittsboro next to the Post Office.

At the request of the Board of Commissioners, the timeframe of the plan was expanded from five to seven years. It 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.

Chatham County Manager Charlie Horne emphasized that the plan is a recommendation only. "The Board will go through the plan in detail."

The proposed CIP keeps the new northeast high school on the same schedule as commissioners approved last year, with the school opening in August, 2016. All school projects included in last year's CIP are recommended for funding. In addition, new school project include:

  • Replacement of heating and air conditioning units in all three high school gyms, slated for 2015 estimated at $1 million; Traffic improvements at North Chatham Elementary to reduce congestion on Lystra Road, slated for 2014 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, slated for 2013-14 estimated at $1.3 million;
  • Replacement of indoor bleachers at J. S. Waters, Moncure and Horton schools, slated for 2019 estimated at $272,250 ; and

New roofs for SAGE Academy and the school administrative offices, slated for 2019 at a cost of $1,174,605(part of a system-wide roofing assessment plan conducted last year). “We noted last year that the CIP would require approximately one-cent on the property tax rate to keep all currently scheduled projects on track and prevent the county from falling below its goal of a 20 percent fund balance," Renee Paschal said. "This remains true for the proposed CIP.”

Commissioners could opt to fund the additional debt by increasing the property tax rate or redirecting funds from the existing budget.

Several requested school projects were included in the CIP as "future projects." The timing of these projects is affected by limited borrowing capacity or a lack of clear information regarding need or cost. As circumstances and needs change, these projects may be funded in a future CIP. Future school projects include:

  • 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.

The last three of these future school projects would require the county to borrow more funds that are currently not factored into its long-range debt plan and would require additional revenue to fund.

Other than schools, the proposed CIP has several other new projects, including some scheduled near the end of the seven-year period. The non-school additions are:

  • Backup location for 911 dispatch communications, slated for 2012 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, slated for 2019 at an estimated cost of $600,000;
  • Increased computer data storage, slated for 2016 at an estimated cost of $650,000;
  • Centralized phone system to connect all county departments, slated for 2017 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, slated for 2013-18 at an estimated cost of $2.2 million (funded from water capital reserves); and
  • Financial software for Water Utilities, slated for 2013 at estimated cost of $100,000.
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Chatham County schedules public hearing about proposed seven-year capital plan

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