Wellington Budget Workshop Focuses On Capital Projects

The Wellington Village Council.

The Wellington Village Council gathered with staff on Monday, Aug. 13 for a one-hour budget workshop discussing all proposed capital projects for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Because capital projects are a large portion of the village’s budget, the brief workshop was organized to keep the council up-to-date on what capital project spending will look like over the next year, before the time comes to finalize the village’s budget next month.

“We talk a lot about our capital projects,” Village Manager Paul Schofield said. “You have all seen what they are, but you have never seen them all in the same place and explained together.”

Schofield continued that the village has a number of proposed projects that didn’t need to be discussed in a lot of detail at the meeting, explaining that the council just needed to know what they have, so it can decide if these proposed projects are the ones that it wants to focus on, or whether there are other things that the council needs as well.

“We really have one month until we get into our budget hearings, when we will adopt the capital and operating budget,” Schofield said.

Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel broke down the details of the village’s current, one-time and utility capital projects.

“We have a total of almost $16 million in capital budgets throughout all of our various funds. Our ongoing projects represent $2.7 million in capital project [funds], our one-time projects [are] almost $5 million, and our utility projects are [totaling] $8.2 million,” Quickel explained.

The $2.7 million in ongoing projects to be carried out in the 2018-19 fiscal year mainly represent the cost of improving neighborhood signs, parks and trails; Village Park improvements; Safe Neighborhoods projects, the Acme Improvement District renewal and replacement plan; multi-use paths and bike lanes; and village entrance signage.

Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig remained cautious about plans to change some of the main entrance signs in the village, for which more than $900,000 is being budgeted.

“I will restate my position on this, which is that I think we need to upgrade the look that exists, but if we go too different, then we are causing all other entry signs to look inconsistent,” Gerwig said. “I want to watch this closely to make sure we have the right [design], because I don’t want us to have to change all of them, as that can be very costly.”

The village’s one-time projects are currently budgeted for those of Forest Hill Blvd. and the C-8 Canal, Greenbriar Park, public works facility improvements and Village Park improvements.

The largest two utility capital projects that the village will fund next year are those of the water reclamation facility and the water treatment plant. The reclamation facility improvement project has yet to go out for bid, but the water treatment plant project has already been priced at just about $17 million, with much of it funded in previous years.

“Our utility capital programs are all coming out of utility funds that are dedicated for [these types of projects],” Gerwig said.

The village is currently funding $4.5 million of capital projects, such as the newly constructed Dorchester Park, with the use of various grants.

“We actually have about $6 million in applications right now,” Quickel said. “We don’t know how successful we will be, but we do spend a lot of time and effort in grants.”

A workshop on upcoming capital projects would not have been complete without discussing the village’s plans for the Lake Wellington waterfront behind the Wellington Community Center.

“Our next big project is the Lake Wellington waterfront,” Quickel said. “We have concluded the first part of the funding with [a total] of $1.2 million, which included work for demolition, surveying, site preparation and permitting. This is the beginning of this project since we had our directions workshop.”

Some council members expressed concerns over the design of the future Lake Wellington included in the staff presentation.

“The plan included shows a pool different than the existing pool,” Gerwig said. “I know this is in the planning process, but I have a fear of removing the Olympic pool that is used by so many swim teams.”

Quickel and Schofield explained that, currently and for the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Lake Wellington plans are still at a beginning stage and nowhere near what the end result of the entire project would be, which could include a renovated and more modern pool.

“At this moment, we do not know where [this project] could go or what the cost will be,” Schofield said. “We have looked at the pool, and the question becomes what kind of facility we need. The biggest single uses for our pool are swim teams and summer camps, and with phase one, we are trying to find out whether the pool is going to stay there or if it will go.”

He noted that the existing pool is approximately 40 years old. When it was redone in 2010, the village didn’t redo any of its plumbing.

“We are looking at — in the not too distant future — having to [spend] $2 to $5 million to keep the pool in service for another 10 years,” Schofield said.

Along with many other details regarding the Lake Wellington project, Gerwig expressed her opinion that more community input be gathered and applied to the emerging plans.

“This is not a concept that I think is successful, or one that I support, and that’s why I want to get community input on this before we go beyond these pretty pictures and colors,” Gerwig said.