County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The County Manager, rather than proposing the traditional 10-year plan, is presenting a short-term proposal until the County better understands the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The focus of the one-year CIP is on projects that are already underway, those that improve failing or end-of-life infrastructure, and those required by legal or regulatory obligations. The plan also invests in technology and facility renovations needed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new body worn camera program, and the County’s stormwater infrastructure.
In addition, the proposal anticipates a $91.895-million bond referendum for critical needs that voters will consider during the November 2020 election.
In the proposed CIP, only $66.4 million represents new funding for FY 2021. The remaining money was approved as part of previously adopted 10-year CIPs, and notably, allows for projects that are underway to continue, including the Lubber Run Community Center, Jennie Dean Park, Fire Station 8, and Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, among others.
“We are living in a changed world, and our community is facing unprecedented health, safety, and economic hardships,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “We do not know when our County and nation will rebound from the impact of the pandemic, and revenue estimates by local, regional, and national economic experts have changed often over the past three months. This proposed CIP reflects that new reality.”
This year’s CIP also begins the County’s increased investment in stormwater infrastructure. The $14.6 million included in the FY 2021 plan will advance several current key projects and lays the foundation of what is expected to be an $189 million investment over 10 years.
For the first time, there will be a bond referendum for investments ($50.8 million) in stormwater infrastructure. The County is undertaking a comprehensive review to mitigate flood risks and design work is underway for significant investments in watershed-scale solutions in high-risk areas prone to flooding.
The CIP includes more than $1 million for a Body Worn Camera (BWC) program for the Arlington County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Fire Marshal’s Office and upgrades to several courtrooms to support technology for the program. Additionally, the in-car camera system is being replaced ($755, 000).
More than half of the proposed CIP ($155 million) is funding projects previously authorized for transportation and infrastructure, in addition to the County’s $30.4 million contribution for Metro.
Other FY 2021 CIP investments include:
- Technology and facilities renovations to facilitate County work following the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Fire station renovations;
- New voting machines to accommodate early voting;
- Trail and bridge modernization, including replacement of pedestrian bridges destroyed by July 2019 storm
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have notably limited the County’s ability to fund some new investments until the revenue picture becomes clearer. Among the projects that have been deferred to the next CIP, which will be revisited in the spring, are:
- Additional funding for the Quincy & Carlin Springs sites
- New funding for land acquisition
- New funding for Neighborhood Conservation
The County is also proposing one-year reductions in the paving program and deferrals in some facilities and parks maintenance capital projects.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 900 people submitted their feedback and CIP priorities via the County’s public engagement process.
“We recognize that residents looked forward to increased investments in major corridors, neighborhoods, parks, trails, and other areas that enhance their quality of life,” Schwartz said. “Once we know more about our economic recovery, I hope to revisit those items.”
Arlington Public Schools is also underway with its CIP process. A joint work session with the County Board and School Board will be held June 23. The APS CIP will be considered by the County Board as part of its CIP adoption in July.
Revised Multi-Year Capital Planning Approach
June 2020: The County Manager proposes capital investments to cover FY 2021.
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 will include a referendum in fall 2021.
Spring 2022: The County hopes to return to its normal 10-year capital planning process.
Timeline of FY 2021 CIP Process
June County Board Meeting: County Manager Proposes FY 2021 CIP
June 30 : Public Hearing
Early July (Date TBD): County Board holds work sessions
July County Board Meeting: Adoption of FY 2021 CIP & November bond referenda
November 3: Voter consideration of bond referenda