Danedri Thompson
[email protected]

Gardner City Council members will be asked to approve a 2012-2016 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) as they begin to discuss Gardner’s 2012 budget. Formally, a 2012 budget must be approved no later than Aug. 25, 2011.

The four-year program lists a number of projects city staff might submit for approval between 2012 and 2016. In total, the estimated cost of all projects is more than $49  million.

Celia Duran, city engineer,  said staff members compiled their project lists based on several master plans including the parks plan, street plans and the city’s comprehensive plan. However, she said, many of the projects may not be funded.

“We don’t know that we’ll get any money for these projects,” she said. “We want to make (the council) aware of our needs so if money becomes available, we can fund them.”

City staff will not  make requests to fund the vast majority of projects during the 2012 budget process, however there are a number of high-priority projects council members may see as they consider the 2012 budget.

For example, according to the proposed CIP, city staff anticipates requesting $75,000 to upgrade the HVAC control system at city hall. However, there are no funds available in the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund for such a project.

For several of the projects, city staff anticipates asking for partial funding as the years progress.

For example, officials hope to construct a $2.1 million south lift station storage tank. Wastewater department staff will ask for $150,000 towards the project in the 2012 budget. They anticipate requesting another $670,000 during the life of the four-year CIP They’ve only identified $10,000 in available funds in 2012 in the wastewater development fund for such a project.

Over the course of the next four years, parks and rec department officials have listed more than $5.2 million in projects. However, for 2012, officials anticipate requesting only $216,000 for three projects – $183,000 to build foot bridges over low water crossings on the Greenway trail, $18,000 to renovate Madison practice fields with a gravel parking lot, and $15,000 to install security cameras at Gardner Aquatic Center.

Jeff Stewart, director of parks and rec, said the three projects for 2012 are all safety concerns.

There are no funds identified for any of the three projects.

Duran said there aren’t funds for most of the projects regardless of the department or budget from which the funds would come. But, she added, the list is to give city council members something to think about.

“We’re giving them a list of our recommendations,” she said. “They think about it, look into them all and decide whether they want to fund any of these projects.”

The CIP is based on projections, but the priority and the list of projects may change over the course of the next four years as well.

“Even though we’re saying this is our best guess that this will be needed by 2016, but every year we’ll look to see if it’s needed,” she said. “(The CIP) doesn’t mean that they’re going to be funded or that we have to have (the projects).”