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Improvement plan discussions continue

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 11:35 am

Ashland’s town council members discussed slight changes to the Capital Improvement Program, or CIP, at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting in Town Hall.

“The CIP serves as a guide for financial decisions, annual budgeting and the coordination of major public investments in the preservation and expansion of the town’s infrastructure,” according to program documents. “The CIP shows how Ashland plans to address its public facility needs and the best method of paying for them within the town’s fiscal capacity.”

The CIP focuses on investing in four major areas, which include downtown Ashland, neighborhoods in the area, economic development and infrastructure projects. Joshua Farrar, Ashland’s interim town manager presented the recently revised plan to council members.

“This is a snapshot or preview of what you might see in years to come,” Farrar said. “We tried to do the best we could with funding the highest priority projects.”

The CIP details 39 possible projects for Ashland. Funding for the projects is divided among Ashland’s General Fund, Capital Projects Fund, grants, bonds and other private funds. The grand total for the 39 projects is estimated to cost about $100,000,000 in the next five years, according to program documents.

Town staff asked the Town Council and Planning Commission to rank their top 10 projects with number one through five receiving the title of “Priority Level One” and number six through 10 receiving the title “Priority Level Two.”

“Obviously, we all have different opinions, but for the most part, we think fairly well together,” said council member Steve Trivett.

Town Council and Planning Commission members agreed that projects taking top priority are the creation of a fiber network, a Carter Park renovation and a renovation of the Ashland Theatre.

“The CIP as presented is a document focused more on identifiable projects than concepts,” Farrar said. “This approach should allow for more informed decision-making in the years to come. The challenge for the future will be to focus on the most important priorities while maximizing other funding and limiting future debt.”

If Town Council is comfortable with the projects included in the CIP draft, the next step is to hold a public hearing at the next Town Council meeting and adopt the CIP.

The next Town Council meeting will be held on Jan. 17 in Town Hall.