Tuesday, August 13, 2013

City Capital Budget

(that's the budget that buys "stuff": trucks, buildings, sewer systems...)
Among the things being considered at this Friday's joint Education/Finance and Operations meeting (9:30 am Friday at DAB) is the city's capital budget.
As far as I can tell, it's still not posted on the city's website; that's a link to the agenda backup on the WPS website.
The City Manager's cover letter puts the total as $40.6 million, with the "net tax levy" at $24.8 million. A big chunk of the difference between the two numbers is the $10.4 million projected for MSBA reimbursement for school buildings off of the $13 million being allocated
What's a little weird about that number is that the projects that have been approved by MSBA are:
  • Columbus Park: windows and boiler
  • Tatnuck Magnet: windows
  • Worcester Arts Magnet: windows
  • Worcester East Middle: roof, windows, boiler
...which our best guess is putting at a $15 million total. Thus the $13 million already isn't enough. If you go into the description of the borrowing, though, the plan on page 51 lists not only the above, but Burncoat, Doherty, and South as well. None of those has been approved--South is the one that MSBA is considering, and we'll hear about that this fall--and the numbers on that one is yet to be calculated.
The City Manager's letter also (page 4) says that it "includes $400,000 to begin to address the design requirements of the second round of accelerated repairs submitted for approval to the MSBA." While it's a breakdown for $7.5 million in "public school building rehabilitation and equipment" (not sure where that number is coming from), I have heard elsewhere that this is money for a--much needed!--facilities master plan. If that's the case, that would be great, as we really need a plan of which buildings need what and in what (logical) order. I know the state would like us to have one as well. I just wish that I could find that in the budget somewhere.
Beyond the school buildings, the capital budget also includes the usual $500,000 for capital needs. You can find the expenditures recommended by administration on page 89 of the WPS budget; it is:
  • $150,000 for classroom computers and technology
  • $240,000 for school buses (that's 4 buses)
  • $110,00 for Facilities department vehicles
It's useful in this context to then have the rest of the city capital to compare that to. Recall that we are running 50 buildings spread across the city, serving nearly 25,000 students, with 4000 employees. We do our own snow plowing. We run our own technology. We have acres of land to mow.
Thus the page 33 list of assigned equipment purchases in the five year capital plan is oddly lopsided.
And you might compare the above with the list of new vehicle purchases being requested by some of the city departments.
Plenty here to consider! Please take a look at the budget and let me know if you have questions!

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