As the County continues to experience the economic impacts of COVID-19, County Manager Mark Schwartz intends to present the Arlington County Board with a short-term proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) rather than the traditional 10-year plan.
The short-term proposal will be submitted in early June and will focus on essential projects and those required under existing agreements or statutory requirements. The one area that will see increased investment is the County’s Storm Water Infrastructure, and the County does anticipate proposing bond referenda for consideration by the voters for critical needs.
“In two months, the world has changed. We have no idea how long the current economic situation will last. We have already postponed a list of capital projects, and our capital needs have changed,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said. “We also anticipate that our future facility and infrastructure needs will likely change post-COVID.”
With such uncertainty, it is important to take time to understand how state and regional funding partners’ capital and funding processes will be impacted. The County does anticipate proceeding with its commitments on major transportation projects, given the need for these projects and the support of the County’s funding partners.
The County’s revised multi-year phased approach to capital planning is:
- Early June 2020: The County Manager will propose capital investments to cover FY 2021. The items in the Manager’s proposal will focus on those critical capital investments that are essential for our community.
- Spring 2021: The County Manager will lay out a medium-term CIP that will cover anywhere from 3-6 years (FY 2022 through FY 2027) based on what is known at that time. It could include a referendum in fall 2021.
- Spring 2022: The County hopes to return to its normal ten-year capital planning process.
Focus of the FY 2021 CIP
The short-term CIP will include the following limited list of investments:
- Metro and regional obligations
- Stormwater infrastructure investments – progressing on the County’s commitment after the July 2019 storm
- Near-term Arlington Public School needs
- Investments to address COVID-19
- Life-safety, regulatory or legal commitments
- Investments in failing or critical infrastructure
While work is needed to finalize the interim CIP, it is expected to include deferrals in almost all areas of the County’s assets and infrastructure. Those projects that are in construction or underway will likely continue, although difficult choices may be required.
The County recognizes that there are many stakeholders interested in various elements of a typical 10-year CIP—and that many residents had looked forward to increased investments in major corridors, neighborhoods, parks, trails, and other areas that enhance their quality of life. Once the trajectory of any economic recovery is known, the County hopes to return to consider those items.
Timeline of FY 2021 CIP Process
- June County Board Meeting – County Manager Proposes FY 2021 CIP
- Early July (Date TBD): County Board holds work sessions and public hearing
- July County Board Meeting – Adoption of FY 2021 CIP & November bond referenda
- November 3: Voter consideration of bond referenda