County CIP released, public hearing set for Nov. 18

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 11/8/19

Chatham County released its Capital Improvements Plan for Fisol years 2021-2027 Monday night during a Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting. The CIP showcases proposed, current and future projects the county funds that will cost $100,000 or more and could be scheduled and funded over the next seven years. The document is not a budget, but simply a projection that can change over time.

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County CIP released, public hearing set for Nov. 18

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Chatham County released its Capital Improvements Plan for Fisol years 2021-2027 Monday night during a Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The CIP showcases proposed, current and future projects the county funds that will cost $100,000 or more and could be scheduled and funded over the next seven years. The document is not a budget, but simply a projection that can change over time.

“While staff attempts to be as accurate as possible, it is difficult to estimate project costs exactly, particularly early in the planning process,” the plan states. “Before funds can be spent they must be budgeted through the operating budget or, in most cases, through a separately adopted project ordinance.”

Projects included on this year’s iteration of the CIP include nearly completed ones like Chatham Grove Elementary School (estimated cost of $33.1 million) and Central Carolina Community College’s Health Sciences Building ($13.05 million); planned but not yet begun projects like an expansion and renovation to the county’s Animal Shelter ($5.6 million) and upgrading the county’s emergency communications radio systems ($18.2 million); and projects down the line such as replacing audio/visual equipment at the county Justice Center ($465,850) and replacing the wastewater system at Silk Hope School ($643,500).

The CIP is also where the county will begin considering projects even further down the line. Among projects mooted for the future, but not guaranteed, funded or budgeted at this point, are a Career and Technical Education building for CCCC, a new Sheriff’s office, a northeast branch of the Chatham County Public Library system and a new elementary school at Chatham Park.

A presentation on the plan given by county staff Monday night urged the commissioners to “be cautious with debt-funded projects until impact of significant future projects and of future growth is known,” particularly related to Chatham Park. However, the presentation added, the county is in good shape when it goes to the borrowing market — Chatham is one of 10 counties in North Carolina to hold a AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s and also holds an Aa1 from Moody’s.

“The county’s diligent planning contributed to the bond rating,” the presentation stated. “These ratings mean that the county is in a very competitive position in the debt market, as demonstrated in our recent borrowing.”

The News + Record will have an in-depth story next week exploring some of the projects on the CIP, what it will take for the county to accomplish them and what they might mean for Chatham County citizens.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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