Departing from long-standing tradition, the Falls Church City Council tonight voted to decouple its capital improvements funding plan for the coming FY2011 fiscal year from the four “out years” through 2015. Normally, the Council adopts a five-year capital plan in a single document. But tonight’s move was aimed at providing the maximum flexibility for the Council to revise its plans for future years given the extreme uncertainty facing the wider economy and the City’s fiscal condition.
For the coming year’s capitial budget, the Council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance limiting spending to monies available through federal and state grants, and to local funding matches required to activate those grants. All other components of the capital fund for FY2011 were officially defunded tonight in accordance with an earlier-devised plan to free up cover $4.6 million to restore the City’s depleted fund balance.
The Council referred a draft resolution on capital funding for FY2012 through FY2015 to the Planning Commission, pending a final adoption on May 24. By crafting the CIP in the form of a resolution, instead of an ordinance, the Council retains the highest ability to revise and adjust the plan, even in between the adoption of formal budgets. This will provide the Council with important flexibility to consider application for low-interest federal stimulus funding capabilities that could alter the timing for major school capital improvements, for example.
City Manager Wyatt Shields reported to the Council that a meeting last week with the City’s financial advisors revealed that there may be considerable opportunities between now and the end of the current calendar year to apply for considerable federal funds support that could cause the Council to adjust the timing of some of the major capital improvement programs, including especially educational facilities.
In addition to funds to construct a new school, indicated at $30 million in FY2015, the CIP plan also includes $11.5 million for City Hall improvements deemed essential for the effective functioning of the Police Department and the court, including court security provisions, now operating at City Hall,
Tonight’s meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m. The word of the night on the Council was “robust,” used six times in reference to the kinds of discussions on the CIP that will be required and to the lack of it in the current CIP due to fiscal constraints.
The Council has scheduled a work session for this Thursday night to go over details of defunded projects and prelminary time lines for future funded projects.