Update: City Council unanimously approved the plan to use $506,200 in unspent capital funds to better target its priority redevelopment areas, as well as a Parks, Recreation and Culture master plan.
The 5-0 vote was cast at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting.
Though the funds are available in the current year’s budget, city staff will be working to prioritize the target areas to tackle over the next few years.
Unused funds can roll over into the next fiscal year.
The downtown parking study, which is already underway, and the Parks, Recreation and Culture master plan are the most likely to receive funding before the fiscal year ends June 30, City Manager Marvin Collins said.
“You’ve listened to City Council and understood our goals and initiatives and what we want to accomplish and you’ve created a framework for making that happen. I think that’s both innovative and exactly what we need,” said Mayor Clyde Haulman, complimenting Collins and city staff for developing the reallocation plan.
With a few shifts in the budget, the City of Williamsburg is aiming to directly target specific economic development goals.
A $250,000 Economic Development Authority contingency fund and $256,200 for Quarterpath Park improvements earmarked in the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal 2016, which ends June 30, may be reappropriated to allow the city to move forward with several priorities outlined in council’s 2015-16 Goals, Initiatives and Outcomes document during the current fiscal year.
City Manager Marvin Collins presented City Council with his CIP reappropriation plan at council’s winter retreat Jan. 24. The GIOs were amended last fall – normal practice during the biennial GIO’s off-year – to emphasize specific redevelopment goals as priorities to improve the city’s economic vitality and character.
With no major objections from council at the Jan. 24 meeting, the reappropriation request will go before City Council for approval on Thursday.
Though the requested change eliminates an economic development contingency fund, most of the $506,200 would target specific economic development initiatives, such as a redevelopment and design plan for the Northeast Triangle, a downtown vibrancy and design plan, and legal and consultant costs regarding redevelopment in the Midtown area.
Improvements to Quarterpath Park will be addressed after the city has created a Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, which will begin this fiscal year with $76,200 of the reappropriated funds, if approved.
The one-time contingency fund, meant to tailor incentive plans for businesses looking to locate in the city, has not been used since its creation in fiscal 2015.
“If a game-changing big fish comes in and we need to find some money for those projects, we are hopeful council will be open to funding those requests,” DeWitt said at the Jan. 24 retreat.
In addition to the one-time contingency fund, the EDA manages two other funds: an operating budget – made up of revenue from incentive programs, bond fees and reserve funds – and a $100,000 contingency fund to pay for its services and initiatives.
The contingency fund has been included in the city’s operating budget since fiscal 2007; the fund included $50,000 through fiscal 2011, then it was increased to $100,000 for the next five years.
To draw from the $100,000 contingency fund, the EDA needed approval from the city manager. Because the items covered by the contingency fund had become annual expenses, such as the city’s portion of the regional incubator or arts coordinator position, the EDA is asking the city to treat it as an outside agency in the upcoming budget so the EDA can disburse the money at its own discretion.
EDA Chairman Tom Gillman, on behalf of the board, submitted a request for $110,000 for fiscal 2017 in January, which Collins will consider along with other outside agency requests as he puts together his budget proposal, slated for release in late March. The additional $10,000 would add new business recruitment as a line item to the EDA’s budget expenses.
The EDA’s letter also supports a $20,000 increase in the Economic Development Office’s budget to support new business recruitment, including travel expenses. That budget, for use by city staff and not the EDA, is determined by the city manager’s office.
Collins noted the increase request for the Economic Development Office at the council retreat, but gave no indication as to whether it would appear in his budget proposal.
The request lists the following initiatives to be funded with the $506,200 in reappropriated money:
- Redevelopment and design plan for the Northeast Triangle (Capitol Landing Road-Merrimac Trail-Second Street area)
- Downtown Vibrancy and Design Plan
- Downtown and Arts District Way-finding Signs
- Downtown Parking Study
- Bike Share Program Study
- Public Art Consultant and Grant Writing
- Legal and consultant costs for Midtown (near the Monticello Avenue-Lafayette Street-Richmond Road intersection)
- Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan
“This is a creative way to get some of these initiatives going now with existing funds,” Collins said to council members at the retreat. “… We tried to be a little creative to advance your initiatives in the current fiscal year so we wouldn’t have to take away from core services in the coming years.”
Any funds not spent on these projects before June 30 would roll into fiscal 2017, Collins said.