More Capital Projects To Come
By Kathy Savolt -
At the rancorous October 23rd Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting the BOT still managed to spend, or plan to spend, over $6 million for capital projects this year. This will bring the fiscal year-to-date capital spending to over $12 million - higher than in any recent year.
At the Work Session, the BOT approved moving forward with $5.4 million in capital spending for several items, most notably a major upgrade of both Harbor Island and Florence Parks. Here is the list of projects to be on the November 13th agenda:
Harbor Island Park Renovations
Florence Avenue Park Renovations
Electric Ride-on Mower
Pavilion Red & Blue Room Improvements
Harbor One Replacement Boat
Marine Vessel 321 Replacement
Parking Enforcement Officer Vehicles (3)
Harbor Island improvements include a complete renovation of the park from the playground to the beach, including a regrading of Lanza Field, a new, expanded, and interactive spray ground (renamed Splash Pad), a new, expanded Band Shell and new, larger playground.
Jason Pinto, Superintendent of Recreation, anticipates $42,000 per year in revenue to be generated by the rental of the bandshell for private parties. However, bathrooms would have to be added to the area to make this a possibility. According to Pinto, this projection was based on $22,000 in revenue for renting the deck in back of the Pavilion last year. However, a review of the Recreation Department’s revenue for the current fiscal year through October 19, 2023 shows the actual revenue is only $2,270 against a budget of $20,000, a significant shortfall. See HERE.
Florence Park will be totally renovated with new equipment, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts and walkways. All new LED lighting will be installed, and the courts will be lit for night play. The Village will explore memberships to use the courts.
Trustee Lou Young asked about equipment for seniors and Jeff Ahne, General Foreman of Parks, reported that fitness stations along the walking paths at both Florence Park and Harbor Island Park are being explored for a later date. Trustee Leilani Yizar-Reid urged the staff to keep the recreational needs of teenagers in mind as well.
At the Regular Meeting, the BOT approved $748,900 (net of anticipated grant funding) for various other capital projects bringing the total appropriations for the first five months of this fiscal year to $6,771,905. (Note that projects with identified grant funding or funded by other sources were not included in this figure.)
If all the proposed new projects are approved in November, the total spent in less than half the fiscal year ($12.162 million) will be almost double the average annual spending that Barberio reported for the last five fiscal years ($35 million, or $7 million on average). Barberio did not identify which of these past projects were funded by grants (FEMA) and not the taxpayers.
Not all of the projects approved or in the planning stage are on the priority list for the Capital Budget and Plan the BOT passed at their February 13, 2023 meeting. See HERE. Although some are listed for future years, they were accelerated to this year.
Trustee Nora Lucas and Budget Committee member Glenn Tippett expressed concerns about this level of spending and the impact the debt service would have on the operating budget with the rise in interest rates.Capital projects are funded by borrowing money and paying it back, with interest, over time, much like a homeowner’s mortgage.