The goal of the Capital Planning Program is to provide a means of planning for the maintenance and/or improvement of the capital assets and infrastructure of the Town of Arlington. It is maintained by this committee that the maintenance of the infrastructure and the capital assets of the Town is of vital importance to the delivery of the quality services that the Town has been known for. To this end, the committee is dedicated to accomplishing the following objectives:
1. To review, plan, and coordinate capital improvements so as to promote a systematic, organized replacement and acquisition schedule
2. To insure that, given limited resources, the capital needs of the community are met
3. To present a sound financial package so as to stabilize and level out the debt of the Town. It should assure timely planning for the most economical method of financing capital improvements
4. To insure wider community participation in the planning of projects and to reduce the pressure to fund a project which may not present as great a need as another project
5. To promote a more effective administration and coordination of capital projects to reduce scheduling problems, and conflicting or overlapping projects not only among local departments but also among other local and state agencies and private enterprises such as the gas and electric companies.
In reviewing the requests of the operating departments the committee will use the following criteria for evaluation:
1. Imminent threat to the health and safety of citizens/property.
2. Maintenance of operations/necessary expenditure. This does not include ordinary maintenance but rather maintaining a current service level through improvement of a capital asset. Please refer to the definitions. These may be major expenditures that will avoid costly replacement in the future.
3. Requirement of State or Federal Law/regulation.
4. Improvement of infrastructure.
5. Improvement of productivity.
6. Alleviation of an overtaxed/overburdened situation.
The relationship of the project to other town projects and needs will also be considered in the review and prioritization.
What process does the committee use to review and approve requests?
The CPC receives capital budget requests from Department Heads and begins to meet and review requests in early October. The CPC members look at the Town's overall financial situation and, within this larger context, each department's request is compared to the request and the recommendation from the prior year and to the five-year capital plan for that department. CPC members use the criteria listed on the capital budget forms to assess the requests. The members also tend to ask if this request reflects an interdepartmental planning effort, if the department has considered other sources of funding or if the department has undertaken any kind of cost/benefit analysis. CPC members like to see evidence of longer term planning for departmental needs, of planning for maintenance expenses and of interdepartmental cooperation. Priorities that emerge suddenly in one year with no reference in prior year requests tend to be more heavily scrutinized.
Information technology requests are expected to have passed through the master planning process coordinated and updated through the Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC). ITAC maintains a 5 year plan for IT expenses including phones, wireless, computer systems replacement, GIS, etc.
Increasingly, the CPC looks for evidence of long term interdepartmental planning around expenditures for buildings, playgrounds, parks and fields. Over recent years the CPC has been increasingly concerned about the lack of a coordinated approach to projecting facilities maintenance and capital improvement costs.
Vehicles and copiers are common requests and the CPC is interested in coordinated purchasing programs for these items.
The capital budget is prepared from a town wide perspective. There is no assumption of a budget quota for individual departments. CPC members look at the history of spending patterns for each department. Departments that have requested and received more money than actually required tend to be more heavily scrutinized.
The CPC members each specialize in two or three departments and meet with those department heads during the Fall. The intent of these meetings is to enable the CPC to get a fuller understanding of the current and long-term needs of the department, and the process used to determine these needs. The results of these meetings are reported back to the whole CPC and are often discussed by the group.
The CPC converts the data requests to a "Microsoft Access" spread sheet and reviews the requests in relation to their priorities, their urgency, their cost, etc. The sum of money available to fund the Town’s Capital program is approximately five (5) percent of the total revenue. This sum includes the debt service from prior years. Historically the CPC has received requests far exceeding this sum. Thus very difficult decisions must be made as to what projects receive funding in any given year. After considerable review, the CPC recommends a capital budget for the Town, based on advice from the Finance Committee and others about what the Town can afford. The recommendations are submitted to the Town Manager.