SUMMERSIDE – City council is looking to develop a 10-year capital improvement plan that will set the course for Summerside over the next decade and outline to the public council’s priorities.
City council mandated staff to begin putting together a plan to inventory capital assets across the city in all departments, said Summerside Chief Administrative Officer Bob Ashley.
“It would include pretty much everything that lasts more than a year, “ he said. “The capital improvement plan is a planning tool that extends out multi-years.”
The CAO said the city has decided because of its size it and the amount of assets that it has, that a 10-year plan is the best forward looking tool that it could have.
“It’s a major undertaking, involving hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of entries of all of the assets that we have in the city,” Ashley said. “But it also looks forward to the types of things that we envision acquiring or fixing up or replacing in the future. The tool is designed to help balance the city’s priorities on a year-to-year basis but with a ten-year proviso.”
The City of Summerside Act requires the city to have a one-year operating capital budget and Ashley said the 10-year plan would give a vision of where the city intends to go in the future. He did add, however, that nothing is written in stone.
“We would approve year-one in the capital improvement plan but all subsequent years would be subject to deliberation, debate and changes as council sees fit from year to year,” Ashley said. “The capital improvement plan is not a budget, nor a contract, nor a promise, but a look into the future the way we would like to see things happen if we can and to give the citizens an idea of the types of priorities that council has placed on capital improvement in all departments across the city.
Rob Philpott, director of finances for the city, said since the 2014 budget was approved, staff has been working quite closely with all departments and “crystal ball gazing as to what they think their capital needs might be.”
“It’s difficult to do,” he said. “It’s relatively easy when you look at next year or two years as to what their requirements will be but when you’re asking for five, seven, 10 years, it gets to be more challenging.”
Philpott said the information gathering is almost complete.
“We’re expecting to have a draft document ready to go to council at some point early in the fall,” he said. “From there it will serve as a good lead-in to our 2015 budget process.”
Coun. Cory Thomas said he hopes it will include a document that residents can see a list of all the streets and sidewalks, a list of ditches and how they are ranked, along with other priority projects.
“That would be a goal to make that type of information transparent to everyone,” Ashley said. “The plan should also show where the funds are coming from. It’s either coming from debt or it’s going to come from grants or it’s going to come from our operating revenue.”