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Some county project requests in capital improvement plan pushed back

February 19, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The numbers are unchanged for the fiscal year 2014 from an overview presented last week, but some project requests in Washington County’s 10-year capital improvement plan are being moved further into the future due to budget constraints and uncertainties.

The Capital Improvement Committee received $54.8 million in project requests for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, and is recommending funding of $39.6 million, mostly for school and road projects.

Pushed into next 10-year plan was $6 million that had been requested for land acquisition in 2016-18 for the Hagerstown Regional Airport, Director of Budget and Financing Debra Murray told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. Murray said land could be purchased if the opportunity arises, but reimbursement from the Federal Aviation Administration for land acquisition usually lags by several years.

That allows the $6 million to remain in cash and available for other priority projects, such as roadwork, she said afterward.

Budgeting for land purchases would be speculative because “we don’t even know if the land would come up for sale” during the current 10-year plan, County Administration Gregory B. Murray said.

Airport requests in the 10-year program, which runs through 2023, were trimmed by $11 million to $20.6 million in the proposal, Debra Murray said. Many of the airport-related projects would be heavily subsidized by the FAA, she said.

In the public safety category, Debra Murray told the board that the bulk of funding for renovations to the Washington County Detention Center originally had been proposed for 2016, but the recommendation is to move the project to 2020. The project also has grown in cost by $3.3 million to $15.8 million, largely because of an added request for roof replacement, she said.

There was a request by the Department of Emergency Services to include replacement of the county’s 911 center in the 10-year plan, a project costing an estimated $16.7 million, Debra Murray said. The bulk of that funding was requested for 2022-23, but Murray said the recommendation is to move the project into the next 10-year period.

The Washington County Library System Board of Trustees requested funding for a new $3.7 million library for Hancock in 2014-15, but the Capital Improvement Committee is recommending construction be pushed back to 2022-23, Debra Murray said.

Design work would be funded prior to that, she said.

One reason for the delay is that operations costs for the new library under construction in Hagerstown have yet to be fully funded, Debra Murray said.

Gregory Murray noted that the 2014 capital improvement plan recommendations would spend less than in 2013.

One revenue uncertainty for the capital projects is whether excise taxes, used largely to help pay for school and road projects, might be lowered in the future, Debra Murray said.

Requests from the Washington County Board of Education and Hagerstown Community College will be reviewed in detail for the board next week, Murray said.

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