Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: P&R and roadwork discussion

As I mentioned yesterday, tonight's capital budget meeting included the Parks & Rec Department budget request. But last night's post didn't include the bubble replacement:As I mentioned tonight, I think it's appropriate to include this in the capital budget as a placeholder -- but nothing more than a placeholder. Considering that the bubble will eventually fail, a replacement bubble should be kept on the Council's radar. I don't see myself ever supporting another bubble though.

After the meeting adjourned there was some talk about road work. I took the opportunity to advocate an old request of mine (also see here) that would dramatically reduce the potential for backroom dealing and horsetrading:

using staff's recommendations, the Council should vote to establish the criteria used in prioritizing improvements to roads (along with sidewalks, curbs and perhaps tree trimming)... then the Council should set the budget (subject to voter approval at referendum) and there should be no deviation from those lists unless there is an emergency.

And don't mistake this as a no-brainer. I've already gotten pushback from staff. So if this is to happen, the Council will need to direct staff.

Thankfully, the Planning Committee Chairman (Jimmy Sima) has already put this idea on his agenda. But it's also a budget issue. So I hope that the Budget Committee Chairman (David Schrumm) will also entertain my request.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Tim, quite frankly the pavement survey says 1.8 million is to be spent on roads each year. this has to hapen regardless of anything else. if you fail to allocate the money this year you had better budget 3.6 million next.. etc. plus a little extra to cover the patching of the roads that should have been fixed the year that less money was budgeted. somethings are not up for debate this money has to be spent each year for the safety of all using our roads. what is your opinion and how much was spent this year and how much is budgeted for next year?

tim white said...

the pavement survey says 1.8 million is to be spent on roads each year

I think the PMS recommended number was $1.3 million / year for twenty years to maintain the current quality.

this has to hapen regardless of anything else.

$1.3 million would go to referendum. If the voters reject it, it doesn't happen... regardless of the Council.

what is your opinion and how much was spent this year and how much is budgeted for next year?

I think maintaining the roads (at a cost) makes sense. I think last year's referendum $$$ amount was $1,000,000.

But the point of this post had nothing to do with the overall dollar levels. My comments were directed at getting Management to recommend the criteria to be used in prioritizing various PW projects and place them into different categories, have the Council vote on the criteria (thus establishing the project priorities within each bucket), then have the Council vote on funding levels for each bucket.

Anonymous said...

It would make sense that the roadwork would have to be prioritized. You can't spend 50K on a PMS and then allocate 1 million or more on repairs without having a plan on which roads are the most in need of repair. To repair them randomly is crazy.

I agree with Tim.

tim white said...

Frankly, if I were staff I'd be repeatedly requesting Council for this to happen as it would dramatically reduce potential claims of favoritism. And even if no one in TH had thought of this before, I mentioned this two years ago.

The lack of this plan being brought forward leads me to conclude that people either want to maintain the authority to play games with the priorities OR incompetence / poor judgment.

Sad to say, but I think either are plausible explanations. Anyone have any other logical explanations for the inaction?

Thankfully Jimmy S and Tim S have both offered comments indicating their support of my plan.

And thank you too for supporting it.

Anonymous said...

Once again Tim you are challenging "management" this time by claiming the Council can establish the "criteria" for which road to fix.
Last time I looked you were not a civil engineer....and the only one on the Council who is is Sima.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to tell which road has more broken pavement. You don't have to be a traffic engineer to know which roads get more traffic volume.
The town has a list of all roads and their conditions. Its pretty simple to prioritize every year and then go do the work with the funds available. The Council has ALWAYS had oversight ability on the list...whether they used the power or not is something else again.
Your "idea" Tim is not new or revolutionary....its simply the Council doing its job.

Anonymous said...

The ongoing failure of a pool seems to just keep on giving and giving. Why are department heads allowed to input such poorly thought out budget requests in the first place?

Sure the referendum for the 10 million dollar repair for what now appears to be a routine scheduled replacement of pieces and parts for just 1/2 million failed a few weeks ago.

This new budget item appears to want just enough to make a one-for-one exact replacement when the current bubble realizes it has expired on the very last day of its projected 10 year life and bursts.

Not to close the door on maybe trying for another 10 million the item states "...other designs may be considered and other options may be looked at but for budgetary purposes a budget figure should be included in the 5 year capital plan. . ." Ponder this statement and its logic. Reflect upon how the bubble issue is not new. We should have known from before the initial opening of the pool that its expected life was 8 to 10 years. Here we are at just about year 8 when all those super concerned about the bubble should be expecting it to fail right on the early end of its projected end date.

The town recreation people and the engineering people and yes the town manager have been in place for the duration. What have they decided should be done? It is a bit late to say . . .other designs may be considered etc. . .After all these years other than the 10 million dollar glass palace or the 1/2 million dollar like-for-like replacement or maybe the best of all just shutting the beast down, what other designs is this budget document eluding to?

Tax payers are asked time and again to spend, spend, spend but year after year the same silly equivocal language appears again and again on too many items to list here.

Time for town management, both the hired hands and the elected officials, to get its act together and provide budget requests that are not open ended money hunting expeditions.

Anonymous said...

9:54 AM

We welcome your input at the cap. budget workshops or feel free to list some of your priorities here or your targeted objections for that matter.

My email is also fine tslocum@snet.net

The capital budget is a planning document too that begins with dept. heads. Council fine tunes, prioritizes and redirects it. We can't fix all roads in one year, instead a programatic approach must be followed. But you are right the budget does become a place holder for some project that may never get done...a north end firehouse, very nice, probably a good idea, but...

Then there is the 6 million dollar linear trail, very nice, but...

Stay tuned.

Tim Slocum