The public can now submit suggestions for how the Town spends its funds for capital improvements through March 15th! The Town has a robust and well-honed system of identifying needs and collecting ideas for capital projects. This process starts with capital requests from municipal departments and committees. These requests must include extensive information on the type of project, the estimated cost, how that cost was estimated, and an assessment of the ongoing operating and maintenance costs for the next five years.
This list of projects is then provided to the Joint Capital Planning Committee (JCPC) for its review. The Town Manager, with the advice of the JCPC, creates a multi-year capital improvement program. While this process has served the Town well, the Town recognized that members of the general public did not have an obvious avenue for submitting a project for consideration by the JCPC. In response, the Town Manager created a simplified form that a member of the public could fill out. These forms would then be submitted to and reviewed by the JCPC.
Capital Request Forms are now available on the Town’s web site here: www.amherstma.gov/jcpc
Capital Request forms should be submitted no later than March 15th. Please submit the forms as early as possible so staff can assist in collecting the information needed to submit a complete project proposal.
What are Capital Improvements?
A capital improvement is currently defined as a tangible asset or project with an estimated useful life of ten years or more, and a cost of $10,000 or more. Among the items properly classified as capital improvements are:
- New public buildings, or additions to existing buildings, including land acquisition costs and equipment needed to furnish the new building or addition for the first time;
- Major alterations, renovations, or improvements to existing buildings that extend the useful life of the existing buildings by ten years;
- Land acquisition and /or improvement, unrelated to a public building, but necessary for conservation or park and recreation purposes;
- Major equipment acquisition, replacement or refurbishment, including but not limited to vehicles, furnishings, and information technology systems’ hardware and software; or other items that combined in purpose together make it a Capital Project;
- New construction or major improvements to Town’s physical infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, storm water drains, the water distribution system, and the sanitary sewer system. Infrastructure improvements must extend the useful life of the infrastructure by at least ten years to be appropriately classified as a capital improvement;
- A feasibility study, engineering design services, or consultant services which are ancillary to a future capital improvement project.
How Are Capital Needs Prioritized?
The JCPC reviews requests for capital funding that meet several criteria. Previously, the JCPC had adopted the following guidelines for prioritizing capital projects, with examples listed in parentheses. The guidelines themselves are not necessarily listed in priority order:
- Imminent threat to health and safety of citizens, employees or property (police cruisers and radios, self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters, building repairs, improving accessibility for people with disabilities);
- Maintenance and improvement of capital assets (major repairs of buildings, replacement of vehicles and equipment, park and play area renovations);
- Requirement of state or federal law (asbestos cleanup program mandated by federal law, removal of fuel storage tanks);
- Improvement of the infrastructure (streets and sidewalks, water and sewer facilities);
- Improvement/maintenance of productivity (equipment replacement, computer hardware / software);
- Improvement of an overburdened situation;
- Newly identified need;
- Priority assigned by Department (Very High, High, Medium, Low); and
- Consistency with and in furtherance of long-term planning objectives of the Town (Master Plan, Historic Preservation Plan, etc.).
Where Does The Money Come From?
Funds for the recommended multi-year capital program may come from many sources, such as property taxes, enterprise and other special purpose funds of the Town, grant funds from the federal and state government, debt exclusion overrides, and unexpended balances from previously authorized capital projects. Certain types of projects may qualify for Community Preservation Act funding.
For Immediate Release: February 25, 2019
Contact: Paul Bockelman, Town Manager Phone: (413) 259-3002 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org