$108 million of projects in Sun Prairie’s draft 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan

The chart shows the distribution of money to be spent in each capitol project area.

A library expansion, street reconstruction, and a wastewater treatment facility are some of the big-ticket items in the $108 million capital improvement projects in the City of Sun Prairie in the next five years.

City alders had its first look at the draft 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) this week as they get ready to set priorities for the 2020 city budget.

The CIP plan is significant for costly projects, but also for other projects that are underfunded—specifically street reconstruction—-or not included—-an $18 million Public Works campus.

The draft plan includes $1.3 million for designing the Sun Prairie Public Library expansion. Last month city alders pledged support for the library expansion with construction estimates at $19-$26 million and a timeline to be completed by 2024.

That project would put the city over the state expenditure limits that set the total amount of general obligation (GO) borrowing to 5 percent of the city’s equalized value.

It would also exceed the city’s policy that limits the amount of the city’s total tax levy used for GO debt payment—the maximum payment will not exceed the 2017 budgeted debt service levy of $6.6 million.

Alders mulled over funding the library expansion design in the CIP plan, knowing that the costly project would shape the city’s capital improvements over the next five years, and could shut out other projects. Although a project is in the CIP, it has to be funded in the city budget to make it happen.

The five-year plan didn’t include a Public Works Campus, estimated to cost around $18 million and replace the current Public Works facility at 201 S. Bristol St., built in 1997. City officials reported that the current building doesn’t have enough space for material storage, vehicles, and staff.

An analysis showed that the library needs to expand to keep up with state and Dane County Library Service standards and provide space for a growing collection and patron services. The expansion would also take care of current maintenance needs.

Some alders suggested putting the library expansion on hold or scaling it down, so the city could fund the PW campus project.

District 2 Alder and City Council President Bill Connors said it was unlikely both projects, as currently proposed, could be completed in the next five years.

“We have this very, very large number for this desired library expansion and we have this very, very large number for a public works campus, and we want to do both, but realistically we can’t do both of those in the same time span,” Connors said at the June 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

As alders eyed facility funding, the largest chunk of proposed CIP spending over the next five years is street reconstruction. The draft plan includes $25.9 million for street reconstruction and $6.3 million for rehabilitation.

But city officials say that’s not enough to keep up with street maintenance.

The city needs to rehabilitate or reconstruct 5.4 miles of streets each year to stay at the status quo, according to Adam Schleicher, Director of Public Services/City Engineer.

The street projects funded in the draft 2020-24 CIP fall below that standard with 22.84 miles in the next five years. Schleicher estimates that it costs $1 million per mile for street reconstruction.

“The 5.4 miles per year will keep the status quo, we aren’t going to get any better with our street conditions, but as the city continues to grow and add miles every year we will fall behind,” Schleicher said.

Alders put the CIP discussion on hold for a future meeting. The Committee of the Whole will need to act on the draft CIP by Aug. 1, according to city policy.

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