ENGLEWOOD — At Tuesday night’s meeting Englewood council approved a five-year capital improvement program (CIP) totaling just over $11 million. The program begins January 2015 through 2019.
Two items are new to the 2015 project year. One is proposed improvements to the Earl Heck Community Center, which calls for the replacement of the building’s roof and windows. The city successfully obtained a Community Development Block Grant totaling $56,000, which will cover 70 percent of the project cost. The second new item is a multi-year project to upgrade the city’s water treatment plant.
Mayor Patricia Burnside asked City Manager Eric Smith if other cities plan as well for future projects.
“Well, I’d like to say no and that we’re exceptional,” Smith said. “Yes, other cities do prepare capital improvement programs. I can’t tell you what percentage. I think the ones that have the staff capabilities to do it are usually prepared. This is a five-year guideline as to where we are headed. It help keeps track of income versus out go and some of our long term goals for maintaining the city.”
Smith stressed that the five-year plan is only a guideline and that it is not set in stone.
“It is simply a proposal as to what we believe to be the case of our needs over the next five years,” Smith said. “It’s nearly impossible to predict five years from now, or sometimes even two or three years from now as to what the financial situation may hold in detail. This is more of an overview.”
He pointed out that if the city is successful in obtaining grants that it did not anticipate receiving, or if an emergency situation were to arise, those would be situations the city cannot anticipate and which would ultimately cause the five-year plan to be amended at a later date as needed.
“What you can see from the numbers included in this report, we are in sound financial shape,” Smith added.
Mayor Burnside stated that her brother was recently visiting from Michigan and couldn’t believe the streets were being repaved stating that where he lives that never happens. Englewood keeps to a strict cycle of repaving its streets on an annual basis, targeting a certain number of streets to be resurfaced during a given calendar year.
Smith pointed out that one of the largest investments a city has is its streets. During financial crisis the first thing that gets reduced in maintenance are streets as it is easy to just let them go, according to Smith.
“We’re very proud of the street maintenance program and we do a substantial amount each year,” Smith stated. “If you remember our former Engineer Vic Roberts, when he was first hired we made an agreement that we were going to have a pothole free community, and I think we have met that objective over the last couple of decades, but it took some work and it took some investment.”
Smith added that the city doesn’t focus on a lot of fluff, but rather focuses its attention on the basic needs to maintaining the city because that is what is important and that is what people appreciate.