Sewers & Streets
August 10, 2009 11:37 AM
As I continue to plow through my capital budget process I'm starting to get the feeling that the capital budget might just get as much attention and interest this year as the operating budget.
Traditionally, it's the operating budget that gets all the action while the capital budget (the city's borrowing plan for construction costs) tends to be a pretty quiet affair. Not this year. For the 2010 budget we've got to make some big decisions regarding the central library, possible city support for hotel proposals, the proposed Central Park and a lot more.
But it's important to keep all that in perspective. No matter what we end up doing on those high profile items, the vast bulk of city borrowing will go for the meat and potatoes infrastructure that we all use. For example, the biggest single chunk of city borrowing ($31 million) will go for repairing and rebuilding streets. Next comes sewers and water mains ($23 million). Those water projects are supported by ratepayers through the Water Utility not the property tax, but for the most part it's the same people who pay the bills.
Parks also make up a large part of the capital budget, weighing in at about $6.2 million, and then there's the equipment we use for street repairs, garbage and recycling pickup and fighting fires ($4.8 million).
Over the last few years we've done a few more things like help with the construction of three new community centers, the first city swimming pool, and the revitalization of the Villager Mall and Allied Drive. All of those things were, in my view and the view of the City Councils at the time, very good investments in Madison neighborhoods.
So, as we head toward introduction of my proposed capital budget on September 1st, let's keep in mind that by far most of what we borrow goes for the basic infrastructure of our city and the health of our neighborhoods.