Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today announced his recommended Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Capital Budget and proposed amendments to the FY 11-16 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Recognizing the serious budget constraints facing the County, the recommendations delay some planned projects while focusing only on funding critical capital needs. Some shifts in funds for earlier years in the CIP were made possible by developing more realistic implementation plans for existing projects.
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“Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and the country continue to face budget shortfalls, and my administration is scrutinizing every dollar currently allocated in the CIP budget to ensure that resources are spent on only our most critical capital needs,” said Leggett. “We must focus on projects that address long-term, sustainable, programmatic needs; master plan visions; and long-term housing and economic development objectives, while resisting pressures to build new facilities that require ongoing operating and maintenance costs. My CIP recommendations delay some projects but ensure that the most urgent education, public safety and transportation priorities do not wait.”
Leggett’s fiscal plan reduces tax-supported current revenue funded projects in FY12. He recommends reductions in the levels of borrowing in FY11 and FY12. Ongoing shortfalls in forecasted revenues for FY11 through FY16 will not support the rising debt service costs Leggett will continue to scrutinize CIP projects for further opportunities to reduce General Obligation bond borrowing.
In his message to the County Council, Leggett stated he will review all new (pre- construction) facility projects and plans to ensure they are feasible in light of the County’s tight fiscal constraints. He also urged Council members to resist increasing Spending Affordability Guidelines in order to maintain responsible debt capacity levels and ensure continuation of Montgomery County’s AAA credit rating.
Under a 1996 County Charter amendment, a new CIP is developed in even-numbered calendar years. In alternate years, like 2011, the Executive may recommend amendments to the existing six-year CIP.
“For this year’s capital budget, we are limited to amending the current budget,” said Leggett. “However, in next year’s full CIP budget submission, there will be significant reductions in project spending in the out years.”
Highlights of Leggett’s CIP recommendations, based on his Administration’s priorities, are listed below:
Children Prepared to Live and Learn
Leggett remains committed to quality education for Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). To serve the college’s growing student population, Leggett continues investment in expanded facilities by completing the new Bioscience Education Center in Germantown, the Rockville Science Center and the Science East Building renovation on the Rockville campus. Leggett recommends deferring $3.1 million in local funding for the Science East Building, which will still allow the current timetable to be maintained. Consistent with the college’s plans, he recommends delaying the start of the Science West Building. The CIP includes a reduction to the college’s capital renewal project of $4.7 million. It shifts resources from two projects to the site improvements project to enhance, by $3.3 million, much-needed site work at three campuses.
Leggett supports $5.4 million of the MCPS $8.6 million requested increase and recommends funding through an FY11 supplemental appropriation. Funds will pay for infrastructure maintenance projects and a new Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) project required to comply with regulations that protect water quality by upgrading grease removal devices at school kitchens. Leggett’s recommendation assumes continued State aid of $40 million for MCPS FY12-16 projects.
Health and Human Services and MCPS
To further his priorities in education and health and human services, Leggett recommends continued support for School Based Health and Linkages to Learning centers, child care in schools, construction of the Wellness Center at Gaithersburg High School, and the planning and design of the Dennis Avenue Health Center renovation.
Affordable Housing in an Inclusive Community
To maintain support for affordable housing, the CIP amendments include continued funding for the Affordable Housing Acquisition and Preservation project and modernization of fire protection systems at four Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) properties for low-income independent seniors. Leggett also recommends funds to supplement Federal aid for public housing improvements but with a reduction of 10 percent from the FY12 request.
An Effective and Efficient Transportation Network
Roads and Bridges
To preserve roadways and minimize more costly future repairs, the CIP includes $4 million in additional funding for resurfacing of residential/rural roads as an FY11 supplemental appropriation. Leggett also recommends design and construction of the Platt Ridge Drive Extension project to provide relief for residential neighborhoods adjacent to the Naval Medical Center Base Relocation and Consolidation project. To address safety concerns, funds are provided for facility planning for the Spring Street Bridge and the Brink Road Bridge.
Construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center (SSTC) is one of Leggett’s top priorities because of the enhancements it will bring to transit and transit-oriented development. Budget recommendations provide additional funding for completion of the SSTC. The CIP delays a limited number of bus purchases due to a significant reduction in State and Federal funding. Because of environmental concerns, Leggett recommends delaying the North County Maintenance Depot to assess the feasibility of relocating the project to an alternative site.
Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods
Leggett’s proposed CIP budget includes continued funding for critical public safety projects including the completion of the 3rd and 6th District Police stations, the Glenmont Fire Station #18, the Judicial Center Annex, the Public Safety Headquarters and public safety systems modernization projects.
A Responsive and Accountable County Government
To maintain the County’s infrastructure, Leggett recommends additional funds for maintenance of public schools and for road resurfacing. Funding is provided to begin repairs on the Executive Office Building/Judicial Center traffic circle, and the Health and Human Services Piccard Drive facility.
The CIP also includes two new Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) projects to ensure that local and non-local parks and facilities comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Accessibility Guidelines standards. Three M-NCPPC projects, Greenbriar Local Park, Woodstock Equestrian Center and Germantown Center Urban Park, were delayed due to operating budget impacts.
A Strong and Vibrant Economy
Strategic investments in infrastructure to support economic development are critical to attracting, retaining and supporting the expansion of the County’s business community and creating high quality jobs for the residents and taxpayers of Montgomery County. Leggett recommends continued funding for the facility projects necessary to implement the Smart Growth Initiative, as outlined by the Shady Grove Sector Plan and the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan. This includes funds for the new Public Safety Training Academy and the MCPS Food Services facility.
Recommendations also include a $16.8 million FY11 supplemental for changes to Snouffer’s School Road North to serve facilities relocating to the Webb Tract site. The CIP also includes three projects needed to implement the White Flint Sector Plan, including the White Flint Redevelopment Program; the White Flint traffic analysis and mitigation project; and the White Flint District East transportation project. Funding for the White Flint District West transportation project has been increased to include final design and estimated construction costs for three roadways and one bikeway project.
Leggett is strongly committed to Wheaton redevelopment, and the County has entered into an agreement with a private developer to prepare a concept plan.
Vital Living for All Our Residents
The CIP continues funding to construct a new library in downtown Silver Spring and includes a study to explore the feasibility of a combined library and recreation center in Wheaton. Renovation design for the Davis and Potomac Libraries were deferred by one year.
Leggett has transmitted his CIP recommendations to the County Council for their approval. The entire CIP is available online.