Cape Girardeau's city council took a first look Thursday at a capital improvements program that sets goals for the community during the next five years.
City manager Scott Meyer and assistant city manager Kelly Green led the council through the first draft of the program, which is created through city staff evaluation of the needs in the city combined with public input.
The plan breaks down proposed projects into three categories -- transportation, environment and capital assets.
City staffers have worked for a year to rewrite the program -- or CIP -- to address the city's needs, which Meyer said have changed because of some high-priority projects, such as beginning work on a new wastewater treatment plant, and the completion of others, such as switching the city's water source from river water to well water.
The wastewater treatment plant project, for example, had to be addressed as the city's current plant could no longer handle the amount it was processing, and wasn't allowing the city to process waste as required by regulation. In 2011, voters allowed the city to partially fund the project by raising sewer rates, although the city has yet to charge the full amount of the increase that was passed.
"We've made a lot of progress when it comes to those assets and those threats, but there are a lot more," Meyer said.
Green said some of the projects in the CIP, such as a new police station and city hall, may not be feasible because of the cost, but the city is working on ways to fund those large-scale projects. There also is an option of making repairs and renovations to current facilities, the needs of which Meyer called "shocking."
The plan has about $3.5 million dedicated to facilities improvement, but the needs are in the $44 million range, according to city staff.
Funds the city receives as a result of the operation of Isle Casino Cape Girardeau also are taken into consideration in the revised CIP. Some items on a lengthy list of unfunded projects will receive funds, but Meyer said that money won't simultaneously fund everything needed.
Staff made some recommendations for using the approximately $5.3 million in revenue the casino should generate for the city from 2013 to 2018. Recommendations included spending $1.2 million for a sewer system on land the city recently purchased to form a business park; installing about 200 new streetlights at a cost of $125,000 per year for five years; replacing a damaged storm pipe along East Rodney Drive for $84,000; and starting a savings fund for a $7.3 million police station and/or a $2.3 million transfer station.
The city will hold a public hearing Feb. 19 to take input for the CIP. The council likely will hold a first vote on the plan during its first meeting in March. Revisions may be made in the meantime by staff, and council members may propose changes.
Green said the plan needs to be completed by the end of March.
Also mentioned by Meyer as part of the success for the proposed CIP plan was the possible continuation of Transportation Trust Fund revenue to pay for street projects, which would require approval by voters in 2015. The sales tax revenue that goes into the fund is put on the ballot every five years.
Meyer told the council that passing the tax "is paramount to what we are doing."
The council also is discussing how to use $1.9 million in casino revenue funds it will have during the current fiscal year, which ends in June. A project list created in 2010 by the council is undergoing priority revisions, but council member John Voss said the council still wants to see all projects completed.
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