By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]
The Joint City-Schools Facility Investment Task Force heard a proposal from City Manager Mark Jinks to decouple the budget process for Alexandria’s capital improvement plan from that of the annual budget during its fifth meeting on Oct. 5.
As the city’s CIP budget has “grown exponentially” over the years, Jinks said the CIP budget doesn’t receive the full attention it deserves by being part of the overall budget process. He estimated 95 percent of public comments on the budget pertain to the operating rather than capital improvements budget.
Task force members also participated in a CIP scenarios exercise facilitated by Beth Penfield of Brailsford & Dunlavey. During the exercise, task force members were asked to prioritize CIP spending for the next 10 years into three categories, based on which projects were deemed most ready for construction.
Task force member Elliot Branch repeatedly pushed back against the process and challenged the assumptions of city planners regarding capital projects.
“It’s not about projects, its about capabilities,” Branch said. “It’s about taking the time to plan it right, so it will go online at cost, on time.” Branch argued none of the projects should move forward from the planning stages before getting community input, particularly
about alternative solutions for projects.
“We need to do an analysis of alternatives,” Branch said. “What’s been done is analysis of assumptions rather than an analysis of alternatives.”
City council created the Ad Hoc Joint City-Schools Facility Investment Task Force in May to oversee development of a joint capital improvement plan for the city and schools and to provide recommendations related to implementation of CIP projects.
Two subcommittees of the group will meet next week. On Monday, the Facility Maintenance and Operations Subcommittee will meet at 5 p.m., while on Oct. 19, the alternative Project Delivery Methods Subcommittee will meet at 7:30 a.m. Both meetings are scheduled to take place in the Council Work Room, on the second floor.