11.  CAPITAL INVESTMENT PLAN

 

A key element of any plan for the future of Westport is the balancing of the Town's needs and wishes with the ability to pay for them. A capital investment plan develops projected capital expenditures for improvements to roads, buildings, equipment and other Town infrastructure that will be needed to support Town services in the next few years, and indicates the timing and funding sources which can be used for them. It also provides a basis for residents and town officials to discuss major issues and the options available for dealing with them, including priorities of needs, timing of projects, and ability and willingness to pay for them.

 

Obviously Westport can simply borrow for needed improvements, but there are alternatives. The principal possibilities are:

 

1.                  Level funding, which is spending only that amount available from the annual appropriation;

 

2.                  Reserve funds, which is the use of funds previously set aside for specific purposes; and

 

3.                  Grant monies, if the Town is fortunate enough to qualify.

 

Westport has a number of reserve funds which it uses to address capital needs.  The Town’s reserve funds, and the amounts in them as of 2001, include:

 

Town Office Building:  

$5,000

Old Town Hall:

$5,000

School Bus:

$31,233

Fire Truck:

$9,705

Town Roads:

$30,000

Municipal Landing:

$9,772

           

The Comprehensive Plan Committee recommends that the Selectmen develop a capital investment plan by appointing a committee of residents qualified in areas such as construction, fire protection, roads, finance, education, real estate, and planning.  The Committee should be charged with the task of thoroughly investigating and recommending specific courses of action for renovation, expansion, replacement or substitution of capital assets and/or existing or proposed facilities for the Town of Westport.  A capital investment plan can serve to:

 

1.                  Help smooth out abrupt changes in the property tax burden by providing a multi-year view of projected capital expenses. This would let Westport anticipate future projects and prepare for their financial impact.

 

2.                  Enable a more focussed discussion of priorities by permitting examination of all major projects under consideration, including their projected costs and timing, rather than looking at such projects one by one, as the need for each develops.

 

3.                  Serve as a tool for current year budget development in evaluating the impact of deferring proposed projects, reserving funds for future projects, or applying various other financing alternatives.

 

4.                  Remain a flexible working document by periodic updates as new information becomes known.

 

A capital investment plan generally focuses on major capital needs in excess of a specified amount (such as $1,500).  The following is an initial summary of capital needs prepared by the Comprehensive Plan Committee.  The list will need to be refined and updated by the committee appointed by the Selectmen.

 

 

 

Draft Summary of Major Capital Needs

 

Capital Need

Priority

Time Frame

Cost

Funding Source(s)

1.  Fire Truck

High

1-5 years

$50,000

Town**, Fire Dept.

2.  School Buse(s)

High

1-3 years

$52,000

Town**

3.  Old Town Hall

Medium

5-8 years

Unknown

Town

4.  Fire House

High

1-3 years

Unknown

Town, Fire Dept.

5.  Salt Shed

Low

5+ years

Unknown

Town, State $

6.  Municipal Landing

High

Unknown

Unknown

Town**, Boat Excise $

7.  Church

Medium

3-5 years

Unknown

Community Association

8.  Tarred Roads

High

1-3 Years

$194,000

Town

** Reserve funds

 

Notes to Table

 

1.         Fire Truck:  This includes replacement of the 1978 tank truck.  The Town adds money each year to a fire truck reserve fund.  As of Dec. 31, 2001, there was $9,705 in this account.

2.         School Buses: The Town adds money each year to a reserve fund for school bus replacement. As of Dec. 31, 2001, there was $31,233 in this account.

4.         Fire House: There is a need to replace the old boiler.

5.         Salt Shed: This will depend upon the availability of State cost-sharing money.

6.         Municipal Landing: The Town has been placing boat excise funds in a reserve fund for potential purchase of land at the turn-around at Ferry Landing. As of Dec. 31, 2001, there was $9,772 in this account.

8.         Tarred Roads: This includes fixing 0.4 mile of Route 144 and 2.6 miles of other currently tarred roads.

 

All of these items are optional in the sense that each would require approval by the Town Meeting.  If a majority of the Town's voters favors a project on the above list, it will eventually be carried out. If not, it will be deferred or abandoned. The above projects include some short-term investments, such as improving tarred roads, as well as others such as the salt shed which may not be implemented for a number of years.