2012-03-15 / News

Proposed capital budget declines

BY PHIL ZAHODIAKIN

Despite spending requests exceeding $1 million for the 2012- 13 fiscal year, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser has recommended a budget in line with current capital spending by proposing some belttightening in Jamestown’s budget for asset maintenance, replacement and improvements.

Keiser’s proposed capital budget was unveiled during a Town Council work session on March 13. The town’s department heads had asked for $1,120,094 worth of capital spending, but Keiser reduced that request to $895,840 in his recommended budget – or $6,715 less than the $902,555 budgeted for capital spending during the current fiscal year.

A capital-spending area of particular interest to Jamestowners is road maintenance. Public Works Director Mike Gray had requested $340,000 for the annual road resurfacing program, but Keiser pared that request down to $300,000 as part of his effort to maintain a capital budget level with this year’s expenditures.

In prior years, the town had annually spent $250,000 on road resurfacing, but the allocation was increased to $300,000 for the current fiscal year.

Gray told the council that the current resurfacing program, which can involve repaving or road reclamation, has improved an additional 1 percent of the town’s 43 miles of roads to an “excellent” classification. The percentage of roads with a “failing” grade – 21 percent before the current fiscal year – has been reduced to 15 percent. But the percentages for roads rated as poor, fair or good remain about the same as they were the previous fiscal year.

The tentative list of resurfacing projects slated for fiscal year 2012- 13, said Gray, are as follows: 2,550 feet of Sloop Street; 2,900 feet of Capstan Street; and 1,100 feet of Deck Street.

Gray explained that those particular roads were selected on the basis of their traffic usage as well as their condition. He also noted that it would cost $4 million to bring all of Jamestown’s roads up to “good” or “excellent” classifications.

Public Works has also requested, and Keiser has agreed to recommend, funding for the following projects, among others: sidewalk replacement for Grinnell and Union streets, and the installation of new sidewalks for Clinton Avenue and Valley Street ($20,000); catch-basin installation on Deck Street and North Main Road ($20,000); the installation of an already-purchased generator at the highway garage ($25,000); miscellaneous street repairs ($15,000); and the installation of an electrical connection to accommodate a portable generator that would serve Town Hall during power outages ($25,000).

Keiser declined the Recreation Department request to fund a replacement of the parking barrels at Mackerel Cove with heavy-duty parking stanchions because, he told the council, the topic needs further discussion. The department’s request for $5,000 worth of repairs at the library playground will be funded out of the rec department’s annual maintenance account.

Although the library will get a sign similar to the one at Town Hall, Library Director Donna Fogarty advised the council to bear in mind that the facility will have some significant maintenance expenses coming up in the fairly near future. The $5,000 sign will be funded with existing town funds instead of a capital appropriation.

Keiser recommended the allocation of $100,000 for the Fort Getty Capital Reserve Fund, which will plummet to $52,739 after it’s drawn down to fund the construction of the park’s new pavilion. The allocation won’t be nearly enough to pay for the infrastructure repairs under consideration for the RV campground, which means that the electrical and water-service work – assuming the council decides to approve it – would have to be funded with a bond.

Another fund that is facing some depletion is the Jamestown Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The council recently voted to provide $138,827 towards the construction of five multi-family housing units on Hammett Court, leaving the fund with about $60,000.

Keiser has recommended providing the fund with its annual $50,000 allocation, but Town Planner Lisa Bryer told the council that, if possible, she would like to see the allocation increased to $100,000. Bryer told the council that the additional funding would help launch the town’s Accessory Apartment Initiative and Employee Affordable Housing Program.

The Fire Department’s funding requests were outlined for the council by Chief Jim Bryer, who mentioned the long-simmering proposal for a north end fire station. The issue was relevant to the capital budget discussion because one of the engines (No. 2) is 30 years old and Engine No. 3 “is getting up there,” the chief said. Replacing the engine raises the specter of spending extra money for a custom fire truck to fit the old firehouse. Besides costing more, Bryer pointed out, custom trucks built to fit the Jamestown fire station hold less water.

Bryer said that, ideally, he would prefer to order a standard fire truck and build a station for it on the north end – a scenario which, he observed, would reduce fire insurance rates in that area of the island.

For now, however, most of the department’s spending requests involve personal gear and a little infrastructure (meaning spot maintenance of the fire station roof and ramp). The Fire Department requests include the following, among others: personal protective equipment ($16,000); pager replacement ($18,500); portable radios ($5,000); fire hose replacement ($5,000); a washer and dryer for personal protective equipment ($10,000); and five self-contained breathing apparatus units ($6,750). The $76,000 worth of requests for advanced EMS gear will be held in abeyance until the town is ready to put in operation its advanced life support program.

The recommended capital and operating budgets, along with Keiser’s proposed six-year capital budget, are available on the town’s website.

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