SYKESVILLE — The Sykesville Mayor and Town Council saw the breakdown of capital improvements the town is requesting for the 2020 fiscal year Monday night — which will require 321 percent more from the general fund than last year.
Town Manager Aretha Adams said the goal of requesting about $650,000 from the general fund and about $500,000 from other funds this year is to get ahead of the curve — since funding has not kept up with needs in years past
“We are trying to stay on target [so] we aren’t in a situation like this year. We were in a situation where we had to procure a new snow plow and truck in the middle of snow season. Luckily, we were able to find one,” she said.
“[The numbers], they look astronomical, but we are trying to look ahead and be proactive to protect our assets and infrastructure.”
The main goals of the Sykesville Capital Improvement Plan are to: maintain existing assets to avoid deterioration, provide funding for existing town procurement policy, properly manage stormwater management ponds, improve parks for community use and use future HUR funds for new sidewalks, Town Treasurer Evelyn Sweet explained at the Feb. 25 meeting.
Parks and recreation
Thirty-eight percent of the capital improvement plan — $435,000 — is slated to go toward parks and recreation projects like the Burkett Park playground and pathway, a splash pad at Cooper Park and the renovation of the Apple Butter Factory.
“On the Burkett Park playground and pathway,” Adams said, “we have already received a $75,000 grant for that. There was about $150,000 in prior years that was slated for [the project] and we scaled that back to about an $85,000 ask from the general fund because of the grant.”
And the Cooper Park splash pad will be a unique way to draw people to town, she said.
“It will provide a quality of life aspect,” said Adams, “in addition to economic development things we do to get people out and in the community.”
About $100,000 is being requested from the general fund for the project, and the other $100,000 required for its construction will come from a Warfield grant.
“The numbers look big, but it’s not all coming from general fund,” she said. “It’s being proactive, seeking out grants and partnerships.”
Truck and sanitation vehicles
Truck and sanitation vehicles make up the second-largest category in the town’s 2020 Capital Improvement Plan with an allotment of $227,020.
Staff said they want to ensure the procurement of vehicles at the last minute, like what happened this winter, doesn’t happen again.
The majority of the funds, $187,000, will be for a new refuse truck to replace the 19-year-old vehicle currently being used in the town, and the remainder, $40,020, is being requested to pay back the general fund for the truck purchased during the winter.
“Thanks Derek [Shreves, director of the Public Works Department],” Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw said that evening. “You did a great job acquiring that truck and making a good deal for us. It was kind of an emergency.” he said.
Sixteen percent of the funds have been allotted to streets and sidewalks and 16 percent will also go toward stormwater management ponds. Four percent each has been allotted for public safety and the Town House.
Public works has been allotted 2 percent and Main Streets has been allotted 1 percent.
Sweet and Adams also proposed during the presentation that a resolution be considered to commit 30 percent of the town’s tax revenue to the CIP in order to ensure there is funding.
“We currently don’t have a policy regarding that, and we kind of pull the CIP spending each year,” Sweet explained.
“So now we have a large balance of unrestricted funds as a result of that, and if we were to tie some of that spending to the property tax revenue, that issue would probably resolve itself.”
The Mayor and Town Council agreed to put together a resolution, but not without Shaw stating he had been concerned that needs would be manufactured in order to use the available funds.
“Just because we dedicate 30 percent of tax revenue per year doesn’t mean we are spending it every year. We are not going to manufacture needs here,” Adams said.
“Right now we are behind the 8-ball in a lot of areas, hence the 300 percent increase we are requesting tonight. This will help us be up-to-date and stay up-to-date in the years to come.”
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The Mayor and Town Council will discuss the CIP again at its next meeting on March 11, including priorities and approvals for what will be done.