Council, commission to host CIP meeting

ALPENA — Each year Alpena Municipal Council and Alpena Planning Commission host a joint capital improvement plan meeting where projects and large purchases are presented by department heads to the boards for consideration come budget time. This year’s meeting is Thursday.

The five-year plan contains needs that are listed in priority by police and fire, engineering, department of public works and other city departments. The Alpena Downtown Development Authority also presents projects.

The plan can be amended from year to year as needs and finances change.

Planning and Development Director Adam Poll said the CIP links long-range plans with more immediate needs to fulfill goals and objectives established by city government.

“We try to look at capital expenditures we project, which could be improvements to parks to road projects to police cars and fire trucks,” he said. “There is a wide variety of things.”

The CIP also includes projects for the water department, boat harbor and all of city owned facilities. Poll said in a perfect world all of the projects would get done in the next five years, but the reality is only a portion of them will. He said that is why amending the plan annually is important.

“With funding being what it is not every project will occur, even if it is scheduled for the next fiscal year,” Poll said. “This process just establishes what the projects are and what year we will ask to have them completed.”

When budget workshops begin council will consider the projects for the fiscal year and set money aside for the ones it believes need to be done and can be afforded. The city’s budget runs from July 1 through June 30.

Mayor Matt Waligora said department heads know not only what they need, but also what other departments need as well. He said as a result there is little or no animosity when a project is approved for one and not another. Waligora said having planning commission, staff and council involved in the process also helps to be sure the most glaring project needs are filled, if there are funds for them.

“Because of the input of everyone and the recommendations of staff, the process isn’t as hard as you would think,” he said.

Waligora said it would be nice to give the green light to more projects each year, but added that until questions surrounding how much the state will reimburse the city for the loss of personal property tax is decided it is unwise to over spend no matter how important the projects may be. He said as property values increase, the city should receive more property tax revenue, which could lead to more investment in CIP.

“Until the state figures out how much small communities are struggling to do a budget because of the uncertainty on their end it will be hard to increase how much we spend,” Waligora said. “We have a lot of needs, but kind of handcuffed because we don’t know how much we are going to get from them. We have to be conservative with our CIP spending.”

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public and comment is welcome. The CIP plan also will be available on the city’s website.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.