A plan to improve the planning for the Capital Improvement Plan

tools Northfield’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is the City’s city’s long-term spending plan for construction projects. It’s a prioritization process by the City Council that’s done annually, but five and ten-year plans are also done.

Oh yeah. Figuring out how to pay for the projects is part of the fun, too.

I can’t find any place on the City of Northfield’s web site where it’s all pulled together for us citizens. Will there be? Is the Council working on the 5 or 10-year CIP? Will consultants be hired? Will public input be sought before decisions are made? At all? 

This blog post is my feeble attempt to pull enough information together to get the discussion started. A capital idea, no?

I started thinking about the CIP when I saw this in Al Roder’s Feb. 15 weekly memo:

Council Subcommittee on the CIP: The group met again on February 15th to review the Street Reconstruction Plan portion of the CIP. The various street projects were reviewed along with the related studies and programs. The City’s special assessment policy / revisions was also discussed again (had previously been a topic at a recent work session) as special assessments are one component of financing street projects. Examples of the impact of different types / lengths of bond issues on property owners was also distributed at the meeting.

The City has traditionally financed infrastructure improvements (roads and utilities) over a ten-year period and buildings over a twenty-year period. The subcommittee members were asked to provide input on the number and types of properties to use to demonstrate the “impact” of debt on property taxes.

The meeting for February 29th has been canceled due to several members’ scheduling conflicts. The group will meet again on March 14th and will be reviewing the Community Enhancements section of the CIP. Copies of the subcommittee’s packet are included for those officials who did not attend the meeting.

Here’s more background on Northfield’s CIP.

Northfield Master Development Fund PDF 

Capital improvement projects included in the 2008 budget are the Streetscape Gateway ($167,000), Bridge Square Irrigation System ($75,000) and a portion of the Water Street Parking / River Edge Improvements ($400,000). The total obligation of this fund for the Water Street Parking / River Edge Improvements project is $1,379,960. There is not sufficient cash on hand to finance the entire project, so a majority of the project will be financed through the sale of g.o. improvement bonds (with the Master Development District then paying its share). The bonds will be issued to finance this project and the 5th Street Infrastructure project.

Nfld News 12/26

City councilors also OK’d a 2008-2012 Capital Improvement Plan Monday that city Finance Director Kathleen McBride calls a work in progress. McBride has been working with the council to formulate a more realistic CIP – one that prioritizes projects and lists financing options. Last month she said it would take several more months and much work by councilors to finalize the plan. The council met Nov. 26 to begin prioritizing city projects. Future work sessions on the CIP haven’t yet been announced.

Nfld News 11/28: Slow-going overhaul of city plan advances

On its first pass at the plethora of projects Northfield needs – and wants – the mayor and council gave city facilities top priority. Those projects include city hall, the safety center and public library. Also getting the nod from the council were a new transit hub and Mill Towns Trail head, a new skatepark and a third business park currently being studied by the Economic Development Authority.

Nfld news 4/27: Council ponders annexation, CIP budget


  1. Jane McWilliams said:

    Griff, I’m glad you’ve raised this issue. My impression is that the CIP is as Ms McBride said above, a work in (slow) progress. Check my League of Women Voters post for 11/26/07 – reporting on a planning session the council had on this subject. Since then as noted above, money was put into the 2008 budget for capitol projects, as I understand it, as a place holder until further decisions are made.

    Meanwhile, I had anticipated that there would be another report from McBride to show how much those top projects chosen in November would cost and how they might be funded. Perhaps the CIP subcommittee is working on this, although from what Mr. Roder reports in his Feb. 15 memo, that isn’t clear.

    In other words, if there is a plan – it hasn’t been presented to the full council for review and approval. Furthermore, I’m not aware that the council receives regular progress reports on the development of a CIP. So, it isn’t surprising you couldn’t find information on the site for citizens.

    February 19, 2008
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Jane. I edited your comment to link to your Nov. LWV blog post.

    Do you (or anyone else) know if there are any plans to engage the public along the way?

    February 19, 2008
  3. The (five-year) CIP development is not yet to the stage where I can produce adequate documents for the community. The Council Subcommittee’s goals include presenting a public document within the next 90 days – and to solicit public input (Council hearing, community meetings) on the document (2008 – 2012) as a means to launch the development of the next five-year cycle (2009 – 2013). In the meantime, the subcommittee’s meetings are open to the public and the agendas / hand-outs are available for anyone’s review.

    This has been a slow process – but it is important to take the time to adequately assess and prioritize the needs vs. the City’s / community’s ability to pay. Beyond that, it is also important to present all the information within the appropriate context (studies, plans, Council goals, etc.) so that the average citizen is adequately informed.

    February 20, 2008

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