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Capital improvement budget proposal unveiled

February 05, 2001

Capital improvement budget proposal unveiled



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Washington County's proposed six-year capital improvement program estimates costs associated with the Hagerstown Regional Airport runway extension at $56 million, more than earlier estimates.

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County officials previously estimated the cost at between $38 million and $53 million. The estimates have grown as the project gets closer to starting, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Friday.

The first working draft of the program was released Friday. It is to be discussed at Tuesday's meeting of the County Commissioners, from 9:40 a.m. to noon at the commissioners meeting room, 100 W. Washington St. It will also be discussed at future meetings.

The annual program budget usually is not adopted until spring.

While the county only approves budgets one year at a time, the six-year program is used to plan for the future.

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The $26.4 million proposed capital program for fiscal year 2002 is about $6 million higher than the one proposed and approved last year. The fiscal year begins July 1.

The program budget calls for using about $11.9 million in local bonds to pay for the program. The plan also calls for using $7.5 million in federal grants and $1.3 million in state grants in addition to other sources, according to county documents.

When developing the program budget, the county took into consideration its debt affordability policy, which suggested limiting borrowing to $10 million to $12 million, Shoop said.

The biggest section of the program, $5.2 million, is for projects at the Hagerstown Regional Airport. Next in size are the Board of Education at $4.7 million and solid waste at $4 million.

The School Board previously asked for $6.2 million in capital improvement funds for fiscal 2002 but received $4.75 million instead. It is scheduled to receive $4.5 million in subsequent years.

The total cost for the six-year program is estimated at $195.6 million.

The county has inflated its estimates for projects in future years by about 3 percent or 4 percent because of the expectation that construction costs will increase, Shoop said.

According to the proposal, the costs associated with the airport runway extension during the next six years are about $56 million. That includes about $5.2 million for the coming fiscal year.

The county has estimated the cost at $38.3 million to $53 million, depending on which related projects are included, because a runway extension would cross over U.S. 11.

The county's cost is estimated to be about $2.6 million with the rest picked up by the state and federal governments, Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said Friday.

The numbers are intentionally inflated to prepare for contingency costs, Motz said.

The program also includes an additional $3 million to rehabilitate part of the runway, but that would be done regardless of whether the runway is extended, she said.

Overall, the program would cost about $25.7 million in fiscal 2003, $45 million in fiscal 2004, $38.9 million in fiscal 2005. It then drops to $19.5 million in fiscal 2006 and $16.9 million in fiscal 2007.

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