City departments explain funding requests

Published 8:26 am Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Come December, City Council will likely approve approximately $81.7 million for city improvement projects spanning the next five years.

The projects are outlined in the City of Austin’s five-year capital improvement plan, which was discussed at a council work session Monday evening.

The plan lays out all projects the city hopes to begin from 2011 until 2015, including funding options for all projects.

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“It is also important to highlight that the availability of the funding source is what will drive a project,” according to a memo from city staff to the Mayor and City Council.

Austin Police Department

Police Chief Brian Krueger explained future Police Department needs and projects. He said he hopes to use $6,000 from the City of Austin’s tax levy to purchase new Glock pistols in 2011.

Krueger said the current pistols are10 years old, and purchasing new ones would allow the APD to wait another ten years until it needs new pistols again.

Other APD proposals include three new squad cars — an annual expense — to be purchased from the tax levy, two new unmarked vehicles – one in 2011 and one in 2015 – and potentially a new animal shelter in 2011 unless Local Government Aid is reduced.

Austin Fire Department

Fire Chief Mickey Healey said the Fire Department needs a new aerial truck; the current engine will be 36 years old in 2012, and Healey said the new vehicle would be purchased in 2013.

The cost of a new vehicle is $625,000 after trade-in allowance and funding would come from the Fire Fleet Replacement Fund.

Healey also said the department’s turnout gear is outdated and needs replacement. He said he wants to replace the gear over a three-year cycle. The gear would be purchased from 2011 through 2013. The cost is $24,000 and would be funded from the Fire Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) funds.

Parks and Recreation

Kim Underwood, Park and Recreation director, said the Austin Municipal Pool needs upgrades in the near future. The main building is scheduled for a roof replacement in 2012 and the pool bottom needs painting in 2011.

Underwood said her other hopes for pool improvements include a climbing wall, drain covers, new pumps and replacement inside lights for energy efficiency – all spread over the next five years.

Most of the pool projects would be funded through the City’s General Fund, with the exception of the climbing wall, which would be funded through a Hormel Foundation grant.

Flood mitigation and other projects

Several flood mitigation projects are also included in the five-year plan. Public Works Director Jon Erichson said the goal is for all flood projects to be funded by the local option sales tax and grants only.

The plan outlines over $16 million in grants for flood projects, but these grants are not concrete yet. Tom Dankert, director of administrative services, reminded council members that if funding is not available for a project, the project simply won’t happen until funding becomes available.

Other projects outlined in the capital improvement plan include: waste water treatment plant upgrades, alley repair and replacement, City Hall remodeling plans, improvements to library building equipment and several park and street projects.

City Council will vote to approve the plan on Dec. 20.