Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Sun Valley prepares multi-year capital plan

Express Staff Writer

Over the next five years, Sun Valley may see development of bus shelters, pocket parks and expanded transit services.

All are projects proposed in the city's draft five-year capital improvements program and fixed-asset program update, a document that plans for the city's future needs. The Sun Valley City Council made an initial consideration of the program during a series of workshops last week to evaluate the 2006-2007 fiscal year draft budget.

The plan provides a long-term planning schedule and funding strategies for the next five fiscal years, to plan for the city's infrastructure, vehicle and equipment needs. In light of the city's predicted demands, the plan calls for completion of 30 construction projects, six communication improvements and 13 fixed-asset ventures.

The directive to develop a five-year capital improvements program came from the city's 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update.

The draft document calls for spending on capital improvement projects totaling more than $8.4 million through the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Property taxes, local option taxes and grants are the primary pools from which the projects could be funded. The city plans a "pay-as-you-go" approach, meaning projects will be completed if money is available.

The city's needs are assessed each year during the annual budget approval process. Future budgets will not be funded until the City Council finalizes each year's budget. The capital improvement projects scheduled for the 2006-2007 fiscal year include:

· Upgrading of Saddle and Dollar roads.

· Paving of the Dollar Road path.

· Renovation of the Elkhorn connector path, which connects the Elkhorn Road path with Juniper Road.

· Landscaping around the City Hall storage facility.

· Remodeling City Council chambers to reallocate space and improve presentation capabilities.

· Designing and constructing a bus pullout and shelter in the city.

· Designing and building amenities at the city's five-acre parcel, also dubbed Festival Meadows.

· Developing a city department space need and facility siting study.

· Upgrading the city's 1997 transportation plan.

During the council's consideration of the plan, members decided to scale the bus pullout shelter project back from 13 shelters to one test structure.

"Bus stops change the character of the community," Councilman Lud Renick said. The council agreed to scale back the project and build one test shelter.

Land is needed for the bus pullouts and shelters. The city's land acquisition fund designates money to purchase real estate for public uses such as bus facilities, open space protection and pocket parks.

"One of the things we are trying to do is make our town livable. One thing that makes a town livable is parks," Councilman Nils Ribi said.

Also to improve the quality of life, the city would like to purchase two jitney vehicles, as a fixed-asset need, to provide additional round-trip transit support between Sun Valley and Ketchum.

A copy of the final draft five-year capital improvements program and fixed-asset program update, which outline all future projects, is available online at Click the "2007 Final Budget Draft" icon to access the proposed plan and budget. The city will present the proposed 2006-2007 fiscal year budget July 20 at a public hearing.

Also in July, the City Council may amend the current-year budget.

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