This afternoon, Charlottesville City Council will hold a budget-related work session, including a report on the budget surplus from FY2022. I’ll have that in future editions of the program as part of ongoing coverage of the development of the next budget.
One of the biggest topics in that conversation will be the need to float a large amount of municipal bonds in order to help finance the reconfiguration of Charlottesville City Schools. The draft five-year Capital Improvement Program is now available for the public to review. (spreadsheet) (fancy viewer)
Before we start, a quick reminder that by state law, Council can only approve funds for the next fiscal year. The additional years in the five-year plan are intended for long-term guidance in paying for future infrastructure needs.
“The capital improvement program is intended to be a multi-year to forecast spending for anticipated capital projects,” Krisy Hammill, the city’s budget and performance director, at a November 22 Planning Commission work session on the CIP. “It’s also supposed to build on the Comprehensive Plan that you all have worked on and it addresses repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure and development of new facilities as well.
For another view of how another locality does this, plan to watch the joint meeting of the Albemarle School Board and Albemarle Supervisors on Wednesday. Learn more in this week’s Week Ahead.
The draft CIP anticipates a total of $99,853,381 in revenues for projects in FY2024. That includes a bond issue of $55,823,907, which is one of the largest in city history. For comparison, the bond sale for the current fiscal year is closer to $17 million. Future years currently anticipate a return to that lower level for bond sales.
Other revenues come from projects that previous City Councils had agreed to fund through bonds but subsequent Councils defunded them. There is $18.25 million from the defunct West Main Streetscape and $5 million for a parking garage on East Market Street.
There are also new sources of revenue listed in the spreadsheet.
- There’s an annual transfer of $575,000 from something called “VCF Allocation.” An earlier version of the newsletter had an incorrect statement. (See previous story)
- There’s $1,042,414 from the school system in a line item called “FY22 Gainshare.”
- There’s $1,474,519 from the school system in a line item called “Construction Grant Funds”
- There’s over $8.6 million from the surplus for FY23 that was placed by Council in a contingency fund for the CIP.
On the revenue side, the largest expense is $72,839,612 for “Charlottesville City School Reconfiguration” which would allow construction at Buford Middle School to begin sometime in 2023. Here’s a description from a very detailed website on the CIP.
“This project will reconfigure the grade distribution of middle-years students in Charlottesville City Schools, moving grades 6, 7 and 8 to a renovated and expanded middle school on the Buford site, moving 5th grade students back to the neighborhood elementary schools,” reads that section of the website.
There’s another $541,060 proposed for a roof replacement at Charlottesville High School. There are similar replacements slated for Burnley-Moran Elementary and Jackson-Via Elementary School in future years.
This will be the first year that major funding from the city for construction of affordable housing is intended to go through a new application process. An application window began in November and closed on November 30. (Charlottesville seeking applicants for housing funds, November 2, 2022)
Alex Ikefuna, the director of the Office of Community Solutions, said nine applications have been received. Yet, as you will see below, the draft capital budget already assumes that Piedmont Housing Alliance and Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Other items in the capital budget for FY24 include:
- $3.7 million for traffic signal infrastructure replacement, with $1 million programmed for the remaining years. This is “for the replacement/upgrade of traffic signal hardware and electronic equipment that is beyond its useful life. Including mast arms, signal heads, electronic controllers, vehicle detection loops, conduit, wiring, uninterruptible power supplies, and switches.”
- There is $175,000 programmed to address drainage issues in Oakwood Cemetery that are affecting several graves. “Numerous complaints by family members and many visual inspections have caused the immediate need toward a sustainable solution.”
- Parkland acquisition increased to $225,000 from $125,000 for FY24.
- The yearly allocation for the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund increases to $1.5 million for FY24 and the remaining years.
- In FY24, Piedmont Housing Alliance will get $2.21 million for “Friendship Court Infrastructure improvements,” $1.885 million for a project at the MACAA site on Park Street, and $1.125 million for a project at Park Street Christian Church. All of these funds are non-bondable, meaning the city will spend cash rather than finance. I have a question out to the city for when the competitive process for these projects is set to begin.
- There is $3 million for redevelopment projects run by Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Unlike PHA’s projects, these can be bonded because a public agency is involved.
Other items for future years include:
- $4.217 million in funding for the Stribling Avenue sidewalk that was a requirement for Planning Commission support and Council approval for a rezoning for 170 new units in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood. The draft CIP anticipates the city will receive $2.9 million from Southern Development in FY25. (read previous stories)
- There is currently no funding depicted for future school reconfiguration projects from FY25 through FY28. This will be an area to watch during the discussions.
- There is no funding slated for economic development strategic initiatives for any of the five years in the CIP.
It’s still relatively early in the conversation. The Planning Commission will have a public hearing on the draft CIP on December 13.