The Milford CIP attempts to link, within a rational framework, the provision of needed facilities, products, or services with the spending necessary to attain such items. The CIP must address the goals and intent of the master plan with fiscal realities. A well-supported and thoughtfully prepared CIP should provide the following benefits to the community (as noted in The Planning Board in New Hampshire, A Handbook for Local Officials, January 2006, New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, Chapter VI):
- Preserving public health, safety, and welfare. Providing the basic services which ensure citizen health and safety is a fundamental responsibility of local government. Programs of regular facility maintenance, upgrades and expansion of government services to meet minimum federal, state, and local standards are essential to any community. The cumulative effect of deferring major maintenance expenditures and basic improvement of essential services is often an expensive series of stopgap measures which fail to address comprehensive long-term goals.
- Anticipating the demands of growth. When related to the master plan, the capital improvements programming process works to anticipate investments in community facilities which are needed to serve or shape the pattern of growth and development in the Town. The portions of selected capital improvement expenditures which are necessitated by growth may be eligible for funding by impact fees as authorized in RSA 674:21.
- Improving communication and coordination. Communication among the Planning Board, municipal departments, administrative officials, the Budget Advisory Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and citizens can result in cost savings and avoidance of duplication of facilities and expenditures.
- Avoiding undue tax increases. Capital improvements programming is a means of avoiding the surprise of expensive projects generating large property tax increases. While cost impacts cannot always be precisely determined in advance, the CIP fosters discussion of the distribution of the tax burden of new capital expenditures over time. A consequential benefit of fiscal stability and sound community facility planning may be an improved bond rating.
- Developing a fair distribution of capital costs. The capital improvements programming process allows for a public discussion of the preferred means of distributing capital costs not only over time, but also among users of the facilities to be financed.
- Building a foundation for growth management and impact fees. The development and formal adoption of a capital improvements program is a statutory prerequisite to the enactment of growth management and impact fee ordinances. A properly constructed CIP is an integral part of a land use regulatory process which implements either type of ordinance.
- Identifying “scattered and premature” development. New Hampshire statutes allow planning boards to adopt subdivision regulations which provide against scattered or premature subdivision of land. The capital improvements program is one measure which a planning Board may use to judge whether a development is scattered or premature based on an absence of essential public services and infrastructure.
- Supporting economic development. Communities exhibiting sound fiscal health and quality services and facilities are attractive to business and industry. New business investment and reinvestment may be influenced by improvements which enhance the quality of life for residents and labor. Private decision-making for investment is based not only on availability of utilities, but also on the quality of community schools, public safety facilities, recreation opportunities, and cultural amenities such as libraries.