Capital Committee expands project wish list for Summit County
Summit County’s capital investment committee recently presented a long list of proposed projects for the coming budget year. The total comes to more than $16 million, tops last year’s wish list by 50 percent and is $2 million higher than what Summit County Manager Tom Fisher recommended during his budget presentation last month.
The committee suggests distributing the funds the following ways:
- $9.9 million: facilities
- $4.3 million: transportation
- $1.1 million: fleet
- $745,000: transit district
- $410,000: landfill
The capital investment committee members are Derrick Radke, Summit County Public Works director, Mike Crystal, facilities director, Ron Boyer, information technology director, Matt Jensen, management analyst, and Matt Leavitt, finance officer.
While nearly $10 million is allocated for facilities, approximately $5.5 million is being carried over from last year because of projects that weren’t complete, including expansions of the County Service Building in Kamas and the Summit County Animal Control Shelter. The remaining $4.4 million would support solar power upgrades and a land purchase for new county fairgrounds.
The transportation-related projects include a Bitner/Silver Creek road connection, redesign of the Jeremy Ranch/Pinebrook interchange and completion of Phase 1 of the Kimball Junction Transit Center, among several others.
Leavitt said he is under the impression that council members are in favor of the preliminary recommendations.
"What was presented were mostly requests," Leavitt said. "The plan has not been balanced yet and the committee has to prioritize and come up with some program analysis and justification as to why some projects should go first and what should be deferred."
Summit County is currently carrying healthy fund balances, Fisher said, before adding that council members "should feel comfortable making the expenditures that are being recommended."
"I don’t have a sense that any of the projects that we are considering are controversial or outside of the realm of what the council has talked about in the past year," Fisher said. "I’m not expecting any large changes as we come to the council to adopt the budget, but that’s not to say other priorities won’t come up."
County staff will be attaching strategic priorities to specific projects to be completed under the $16 million, Fisher said.
"We are certainly putting a large amount of money into transportation and traffic, as well as hitting some sustainability goals," Fisher said. "Specific to transportation we are hitting some high-priority projects, like beginning the process on a multi-year project around the Jeremy Ranch interchange and Kilby Road, which are projects that have been on the books for a while and are key to moving transportation and traffic."
Fisher said the county’s financial health is currently stable and attributed it to proper fund management throughout the last several years.
"We have been doing a very good job at managing the growth of the budget to bring it back from some of the problems we have experienced in the recession and will be continuing to keep fund balances at a high level while continuing to do a lot of work," Fisher said.
While weighing capital projects for the upcoming fiscal year, the council was asked to also consider future projects that may be requested and the county’s ability to pay for them.
From 2017 through 2021, the capital committee estimates approximately $89.5 million in capital projects, including $7.5 million for construction of the county fairgrounds, $450,000 land purchase for a new cemetery, $8.1 million to expand the Summit County Justice Center and $5 million for a consolidated Senior Center will be added to the mix. Planned revenue during the four-year period is $40.3 million.
Officials mentioned the need to explore additional funding sources based on prioritization, such as a general obligation bond, county-wide tax option or adjustment of current tax levels.
"We can project, based on what we know right now, about a $45 million deficit between revenue that we take in and capital projects that need to be done," Fisher said. "We will discover some things above our current capital needs that need to be done and I anticipate that deficit number and our projected needs to grow."
The Summit County Council will continue to take budget requests throughout the next several weeks as the capital committee prioritizes the capital projects that are being proposed.
Two public hearings will be scheduled in early December and the county’s overall budget must be adopted on or before Dec. 31.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.