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City Beat: Council approves $520M in capital improvements

Nearly $96 million in city projects are lined up for 2019

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Springfield City Council on Feb. 25 unanimously voted to pass a resolution approving $520 million in capital improvements over the next six years.

The city identified 126 projects, totaling $95.8 million, for 2019 and an additional 160 projects between 2020 and 2024, according to city documents. The 160 future projects in the capital improvements program total $425.6 million.

The CIP is a six-year rolling program that lays out the funds and plans for the construction, maintenance and replacement of the city’s infrastructure and public facilities.

“A lot of these are ongoing projects at various stages during the design and construction phase,” said Randall Whitman, principal city planner for Springfield. “It’s used as a resource to develop the annual budget and is really intended to create transparency and give the public an opportunity to review and comment on capital spending.”

Whitman said 55 new projects were added to the 2019 CIP, and 40 of those are slated to receive funding this year. He pointed to recently announced fire station projects, three of which the 2019 CIP has budgeted $860,000.

The 2019 projects are broken down into 10 categories: airport, fire station, infrastructure, municipal building/ground, sanitary sewer, solid waste, stormwater, street, traffic management system and walkability/bicycle/safety.

Street improvements is the largest budgeted segment, with $28.4 million slated for 30 projects, followed by 30 sanitary sewer projects totaling $26.4 million. Whitman said among the priority projects are $13.2 million in upgrades to the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, $6.8 million in improvements to the city landfill and $2.5 million to widen Primrose Street and improve sidewalks at Jefferson Avenue.

To be eligible for the CIP, the project must have a value of at least $100,000 with a useful life of at least six years, according to city documents. Not included is funding for equipment, services, supplies, personnel or dangerous building demolition.

Inclusion into a CIP does not guarantee completion, Whitman said. The projects are prioritized by public safety, legislative engagement, fiscal sustainability and economic vitality.

Many of the 2019 projects planned for construction are dependent on funding from the renewal of the quarter-cent capital improvements sales tax, which is slated to go before voters April 2.

Projects must be funded through sales taxes, the level property tax, grants, federal or state programs, private funding and/or developer agreements, according to city documents.

Last year, 28 CIP projects totaling $43.2 million were completed, Whitman said. Among them were the Chestnut Expressway railroad grade separation to ease traffic flow for $18.1 million; a sanitary sewer overflow control program sewer rehab for $11.6 million; and the widening of Republic Road from Parkcrest Avenue to Fairview Avenue for $2.7 million, according to city documents.

Airport improvements
Council heard a proposal to amend the Springfield-Branson National Airport budget by $800,000 for fiscal 2019 to improve two car rental service lots.

Brian Weiler, director of aviation, said the money would come from the airport’s customer facility charge reserve fund, a separate account with a current balance of $4.2 million based on the number of contract days a car is rented from the airport.

The customer facility charge rate is $4.50 per contract day, according to city documents.

“We have over 80,000 car rental contract days that come off our airport a year, and it’s actually our second largest revenue source for the airport only behind parking,” Weiler said.

The airport already has $1.05 million budgeted for facility upgrades, but requested the additional funding for its ready return lot, where cars are brought in for service, fueling, cleaning and washing.

Weiler said officials from car rental companies operating at the airport requested additional improvements, such as lighting, security cameras and water quality in car wash bays. Additionally, the gravel lot for car rental storage would be paved.

“When they drop those cars off, they track dirt and mud onto that area, so that’s something we’ve been wanting to do for quite some time,” he said.

The airport website identifies eight car rental companies as service agents. Council is scheduled to vote on the amended budget March 11.

Tabled measures
With three council members not in attendance – Matthew Simpson, Craig Hosmer and Richard Ollis – six bills up for second reading and vote were tabled until March 11. Four were rezoning requests.

According to city code, no ordinance amending the zoning district maps of the city shall be considered by the council for final passage unless eight members are present.

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