The CIP Process
The Milford Planning Board is charged with directing the capital improvements planning process, based upon the Town’s adopted master plan goals and recommendations. In order to broaden citizen participation for the annual CIP update the Planning Board elected to increase the size of the advisory committee from five members to seven. Additionally, the Planning Board felt it was critical to increase communication with the Board of Selectmen on capital improvements planning, as the Selectmen are the primary decision-makers in what goes before the voters for funding. Communication between committees and the boards had been identified as an area in need of improvement and efforts were made to implement the Facilities Planning Process (see Appendix I). This year the Advisory Committee met three times with the Board of Selectmen and provided a preliminary full list of projects to that Board in August.
The CIP process normally begins in late spring of each year with a request for project submittals distributed by the Community Development Office and at this time the Planning Board appoints a citizen committee representing several areas of Town operation; two Planning Board members, a School Board member, a Budget Advisory Committee member and three Members-at-large.
The Committee meets regularly starting in late spring with the goal of completing a final draft Capital Improvements Plan for public review in early fall. During this time the Advisory Committee hears presentations from department heads and representatives of the boards and commissions that submit project requests. The Committee generally follows a basic five-step process in accumulating, analyzing, evaluating, ranking, and allocating project requests to appropriate years in the upcoming six-year time frame, with the intent of balancing needs and costs with Town financial constraints and reasonable and logical implementation timeframes. A more detailed description of the Capital Improvements Plan process is as follows:
The Community Development Department transmits project request forms to all department heads, commissions, and the Milford School District SAU office. Projects are referenced by either a new or previously given project number to facilitate easier identification and review of projects. Each project is also to have a Statement of Need in addition to the Description. The Statement of Need should enable the Advisory Committee to understand why the project is required for continuation or increase of Town services and the impact of delaying or not accomplishing the project.
Additionally, the Project Request form seeks project rationale and justification based on a series of factors used to evaluate. The specific project:
- removes imminent threat to public health or safety,
- alleviates substandard condition or deficiencies,
- responds to federal or state requirements to implement,
- improves the quality of existing services,
- provides added capacity to serve growth,
- reduces long-term operating costs,
- provides incentive to economic development,
- is eligible for matching funds available for a limited time,
- is a continuation of an existing project,
- addresses public demand,
- extends the useful life of the current facility or equipment, and,
- any “other” if there are additional extenuating circumstances justifying project inclusion in the CIP.
The Advisory Committee reviews project requests, and schedules a meeting with the respective department if needed to discuss each project.
The Advisory Committee studies projects individually and through group discussions. Evaluation includes review of the level of preparation applied to the requested project. The Advisory Committee utilizes a policy that a minimum of a conceptual drawing or architect’s rendering is required for any facility which is expected to be placed in the next three (3) year “window”. Not all projects submitted each year are recommended for inclusion in the CIP Plan. This may result if the Committee determines that a project has not established sufficient need or if it is unlikely to achieve support to implement during the plan years. The Planning Board can bring a project back into the CIP during its review at the public hearing process.
Once all project requests have been reviewed, the Advisory Committee ranks on a 1-5 numerical scale based on perceptions of Need (is the project vital to Town operation); Urgency (what will be the consequences if the project is postponed or never accomplished): and Completeness of Request (concept, rationale, pictures, drawings, cost estimates, and demand level by citizens).
Using the requestor’s recommendation as a starting point, the Advisory Committee discusses and develops a consensus on the recommendation for the year in which the Project should be placed on the Town Warrant. For projects requiring bonding the tax impact is noted the year after the Warrant Article is presumed to pass. The CIP Committee adjusts recommended Warrant Article and funding years to smooth the fiscal impact and maintain a reasonable debt level each year. The Committee considers the overall debt load from all bonded or lease purchase acquisitions by the Town and the School District.
Upon completion of the five-step process, the Advisory Committee:
- Prepares the ‘final’ draft report;
- Presents the final draft to the Planning Board at a Planning Board worksession;
- Presents the final draft to the Board of Selectmen to brief the Board on its recommendations;
- Transmits a copy of the final report to department heads, the Board of Selectmen, the Budget Advisory Committee, and the Planning Board;
- Schedules a public hearing date with the Planning Board;
- Presents the CIP at a Planning Board meeting for the required public hearing and adoption.