Finance reviews capital improvement projects
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville Finance Committee discussed a plethora of capital improvement projects at its Aug. 24 meeting.
Ehlers, the city’s financial advisor, discussed with the council on July 27, a plan on how to finance and pay for all the projects on the list, which were submitted by city department heads.
One item that wasn’t on the list is the bridge on Hemlock Street, which is in need of repairs that could amount to $100,000.
City Administrator Chuck Kell told the committee he’d like to request bids for that project. He said he had a feeling that if repairs are done this year while the bridge contractor working on the Main Street bridge are still in the city, that the city could save around $10,000.
“But we can’t just hire them because of the cost of the project,” Kell said.
He added, “I’d like to try to do it in 2015 if it saves the city money. If it doesn’t save the city money then I guess it can probably wait.”
The money for the repairs would come from the capital fund. There is $700,000 in that fund. Of that amount, $500,000 is money that was borrowed but not spent, Kell said.
The committee unanimously approved the city to obtain bids for the bridge repairs.
During the discussion regarding the list of potential capital improvement projects, Kell said additional money would have to be borrowed to pay for all the projects. That is if the city decided to approve all the projects.
“I don’t want to suggest to you that that means we should do everything that is on here,” Kell said.
He said the list included $55,000 for the Rec Center, which he said is a lot of money.
It also included $500,000 for storm water and utility relocation work in the industrial park.
“I need to know if that’s real important to your decision process,” Kell said.
He also said city halls needs a new HVAC system, which is important.
“If that goes down, we’re going to have some major problems,” Kell said.
The cost of having the new system installed was estimated to be $60,000.
In addition, Kell said there are a lot of new vehicles for different departments on the list.
Committee member Mary-Beth Kuester asked about the $50,000 estimate to replace a shelter at W.A. Olen Park.
“Right now it is ready to fall down,” said Justin Mc Auly, Park and Recreation director. “I think it’s a safety concern.”
“I don’t think we can afford a $50,000 shelter with the critical needs we have,” Kuester said.
Mc Auly said the $50,000 figure is probably high, but he didn’t have any quotes from contractors.
Committee member Lois Bressette suggested the city work with Clintonville High School to have students help build the shelter.
“It still think we need to support our parks and recreation programs because that’s what people use,” Bressette said.
Kuester said she is in support of the parks, but the city has to start cutting.
Kuester questioned a couple of other items for the Park and Recreation Department — $30,000 for replacing a mower and $20,000 for a new ball diamond groomer.
Mc Auly said the mower is 14 years old and has 3,700 hours on it. The machine is also used for sweeping sidewalks, so it is used year-round.
“We’re constantly maintaining it every year,” Mc Auly said.
Mc Auly said the ball diamond groomer is eight years old, and there have been a lot of maintenance issues with it. He added that the groomer is used only for the youth leagues, the Clintonville A’s don’t use it.
Remodeling city hall, at an estimated cost of $17,500, is also on the list. Kell said he wasn’t convinced that project should move forward. The purpose of the remodel would be to have two separate windows inside city hall — one for city hall business and one for utilities business.
“We’re going to have to start saying ‘no’ to some of this stuff because we can’t go back and tap that surplus (undesignated fund balance) again,” Kuester said.
After more discussion it became apparent that department heads weren’t rating the importance of each project on the same scale.
Clintonville Fire Chief Shane Krueger said department heads were asked to be creative and remove items from their operating budget and place them in the capital budget.
“We’re being asked to remove things from the operating budget and put them into capital and then to get pinched on capital, it’s making things very difficult,” Krueger said.
Kell added there are other looming capital costs not on the list. This includes $100,000 if the city has to raze a building on 11th Street. What to do with the city’s outdoor swimming pool will also need to be addressed.
“He’s (Mc Auly, Park and Rec director) not sure he’s going to be opening it based on the condition of things, and if he can’t open it he wants to tear it out and that has a cost,” Kell said.
Kell said he had hoped to have the council act on the Capital Improvement Plan at its Sept. 8 meeting as part of the budget process. He acknowledged this wouldn’t be possible with all the questions the committee was raising.
The committee agreed to have department heads reprioritize their items on the list, and discuss it at a future Finance Committee meeting.