By Mara Knaub for Yuma sun
The Yuma City Council scrutinized the Capital Improvement Program plan for 2021 in a roundtable discussion.
The CIP budget, at $51.4M, is more than last year, but the city expects 45 percent of the costs to be recovered through grants, reimbursements and private-public partnerships.
City Engineer Jeff Kramer noted that the needs are greater than the available resources, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Mayor Karen Watts thanked the staff for handling the “monumental task” of creating a budget in an “unprecedented year” that included a pandemic and shutdown of businesses.
City Administrator Phil Rodriguez explained that the purpose of the roundtable discussion was to gather feedback from the council members and make sure it’s consistent with their vision.
Kramer noted that capital improvements include new construction and renovations to existing facilities. A project with a value of $25K or greater can be considered a capital improvement and can also include the purchase of equipment that would increase the function, efficiency or extend the life of a facility. The funding sources for the CIP include bonds, fees, taxes and grants.
In the past year, Yuma completed 30 projects. Currently, 17 projects are underway, either in the design phase or in construction.
The 2021 CIP includes 54 projects, with the biggest chunk, $20.3M, going to the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. However, 88.2 percent of its projects will be funded through grants.
The summary, by department, notes that $13.5M will go to Water Utility, $8.4M to Transportation with 2.3 percent funded by grants, $5.7M to Wastewater Utility, and $2M to Parks and Recreation with 52 percent funded by grants. If a grant is not received, the project will not move forward, Kramer said.
Shelton questioned the necessity of some projects for 2022 and 2023, asking whether the city could better use the funds for city interior streets. But Councilman Gary Knight noted, and Watts agreed, that the council’s primary concern at this point should be the 2021 budget and if the city doesn’t have the funds when those projects come closer, then they can take them out of the CIP.
Rodriguez said that the council would have other opportunities through the year to shift priorities and redirect staff.
Councilman Mike Shelton questioned the necessity of some projects for 2022 and 2023, asking whether the city could better use the funds for city interior streets. But Knight noted, and Watts agreed, that the council’s primary concern at this point should be the 2021 budget and if the city doesn’t have the funds when those projects come closer, then they can take them out of the CIP.
Shelton said that looking across the CIP, the projects seemed “all worthy, all important, all have value, but we can’t do it all. We’re where the buck stops in determining which have the highest priorities given the resources we have. That’s what it’s all about.”
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By Mara Knaub for Yuma sun