Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Council to develop capital improvement plan

Projects could include new fire station, city hall improvements

Express Staff Writer

The city of Sun Valley is one step closer to having a capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2009 through 2014.

A capital improvement plan involves evaluation of the city's infrastructure, a prioritized list of projects and a schedule for the projects' completion as well as cost estimates. Capital improvements can be funded by a city's regular revenue or through bonds.

The city is operating under a program it created for fiscal years 2006 through 2011. Mayor Wayne Willich acknowledged, however, that only about eight percent of the program has been implemented, including the purchase of two buses last year and a fire engine.

"We never moved out of draft stages," Willich said.

During a City Council meeting Thursday, Betsy Roberts, an engineer for CH2M Hill, and Mark Bowen, the area manager for CH2M Hill, an engineering firm that works for the city, outlined plans to create a program with a starting date as early as late June.

Roberts had worked with the city in 1996 to develop a $10 million capital improvement program funded by a local bond. The project included rewriting city code to improve infrastructure construction and design and creating the city's first transportation plan. Projects included paving arterial streets such as Dollar Road.

"It was very successful," Roberts said. "We got it all done."

However, Willich said finalizing a new program by June is too early. He said November would be the earliest.

Councilman Nils Ribi concurred. He also said the council's real goal is to develop a finalized capital improvement plan and then determine how best to fund it, possibly through a bond.

Bond funding would require a citywide election. If the measure failed, the city would have to wait at least six months before putting the issue up for another vote.

While no timetable was set, Willich was clear that a capital improvement program is a priority for the council.

"Even if we don't have a bond or do it in three years, I want and this group wants a bulletproof capital improvement program," he said.

In an interview, Willich said projects could include a new maintenance and sand-storage facility near Horseshoe Road in Elkhorn and improvements in energy efficiency at City Hall.

Willich also said there could be plans for a new fire station on Trail Creek Road, which would require a deal with Sun Valley Co. to acquire the rights for the land.

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