- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Staff presented the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners with its six-year capital improvement plan on Tuesday, although the general consensus of the board was that any number of projects may need to be pushed back in light of impending cost shifts from the state.
Department heads were already asked to prioritize each project included in the proposed fiscal 2013-2018 CIP, due to the economic recession, resulting in the deferral of $54.4 million of previously planned projects, which are now pushed out to fiscal 2019 and beyond. Despite this deferral, Calvert’s debt currently is projected as slightly exceeding the allowable limit in 2018, but that estimate is not unusual and is likely to change over the next five years, Capital Projects Analyst Julie Paluda said.
“I think the recurring theme is we’re all just gonna have to sit on our hands and wait to see what comes out of it at the state level,” Commissioners’ Vice President Steve Weems (R) told the department heads present, as Calvert currently faces the shift of teacher pensions, which will result in about $5 million for fiscal 2013, and a nearly $1.3 billion plan to reduce nutrient pollution over the next 13 years.
“Obviously if teachers’ pensions get dumped on us it’s a whole new ball game,” Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) said.
Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said she was bothered by the amount of school construction projects the state is willing to fund when it is pushing other education-related costs onto local governments.
“It’s really annoying when the state is spending money on school construction instead of teacher pensions. ... I know it’s not something we have any control over. At this point in time I would leave it in there and see what happens,” she said of construction projects in the budget.
Of the $216.7 million fiscal 2013-18 projects currently in the plan, 58 percent of the funds will come from bonds, 25 percent from the state, 12 percent from county funds, 3 percent from excise taxes and 2 percent from other sources. Education projects total 33 percent, public safety 21 percent, transportation 18 percent, utility projects 16 percent, public facilities 6 percent, recreation resources 3 percent, technology services 2 percent and upgrades to the Chesapeake Hills Golf Course totals 1 percent.
Within each category of project, department heads rated those projects by priority: Level 1 is critical, level 2 is important but not critical and level 3 is not critical. All but a few of the fiscal 2013 projects are listed as level 1 and none of those listed as level 2 are being funded with county money, Paluda said.
However, Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) asked staff to rank each of their department’s level 1 priorities so the board could later determine which priorities are most critical should some need to be pushed back due to financial constraints.
“We don’t know what the end state is in terms of dollars,” he said. “Not everything can be No. 1 priority. ... There’s an assumption that we have to fund all the No. 1 priority items. I don’t know that we can afford to do that.”
“I don’t have a problem with staff doing that,” Clark agreed.
In education, construction of Calvert High School continues as planned with $9.6 million budgeted for fiscal 2013, $1.7 million is budgeted for fiscal 2013 for planning the renovation and expansion of Northern High School and the Brooks Administration Building is scheduled to receive a fire alarm system upgrade and new emergency generator next year. Appeal Elementary and Plum Point Elementary will receive roof replacements in fiscal 2013, and Mutual Elementary will receive renovations on its fire suppression system and interior.
Other significant projects in fiscal 2013 include: major renovations at the Calvert Marine Museum, to be funded by bonds and private contributions; continued progress on the Dowell Road widening project; the Prince Frederick Loop Road project at the Route 231 intersection; planning for safety and operational improvements at the intersection of Route 231 and Skipjack Road; replacement of a handful of fire and rescue vehicles; relocating the scale house at the Appeal Landfill to improve traffic flow; and $4.5 million in wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
Construction of a new County Services Plaza, replacement of Beach Elementary School, Brooks Administration Building renovations, expansion of the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, renovation of the Prince Frederick Volunteer Rescue Squad and various park improvements have been deferred beyond fiscal 2018.
The CIP will be part of the staff recommended budget, which will be presented at a public hearing on March 13.
In other business, the commissioners:
Ÿ Unanimously approved a budget adjustment of $79,125 in reallocated funds be used for additions to the Dunkirk District Park skate park and ball field lighting;
Ÿ Unanimously closed a public hearing on the 2011 Calvert County Road Ordinance. The record will remain open for 10 days before approval, and the ordinance will take effect July 1, grandfathering in all residential, institutional and commercial developments with preliminary plat approval from the Calvert County Planning Commission;
Ÿ Recognized Paula Shrawder, an office assistant for the Circuit Court in the State’s Attorney’s Office and Candice D’Agostino, coordinator of Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse, as employees of the month for January and February, respectively.