City Council votes unanimously to approve the 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Plan

It is a planning document, not a budget.

The Issaquah City Council voted unanimously in favor of the 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) at a city council meeting on July 15.

The CIP is a long-range planning tool that lists Issaquah’s intended infrastructure investments, ranging from projects for roads to parks. The plan includes construction costs, project design and projected financial goals for a six-year period.

“First and foremost, a Capital Improvement Plan is a planning document, not a budget,” said Issaquah finance director Beth Goldberg. She described the CIP as a statement of intended plans produced by 22 capital managers and seven city departments.

Mayor Mary Lou Pauly proposed the CIP to the city council in June. Since then, the council has been discussing priority projects and funding strategies.

“We proposed a number of projects within the CIP,” Goldberg said. “At the June 24 work session, council expressed a desire to accelerate work on Southeast 43rd Street signal improvements from commencing the project in 2021 to 2020.”

The Southeast 43rd Street signal has been a concern reported by many citizens trying to find a way to ease the flow of traffic around Providence Point.

“We are a city that has been rapidly growing over the past 10-15 years and there are projects that are highly desirable by the community,” Pauly said. “There has been a lot of discussion about what should be at the top of the list.”

In order to prioritize the project, the plan must change the funding source from the proposed Transportation Benefit District (TBD) packages to existing general fund debt service capacity. Staff made changes to several projects on the CIP: Valley Trail and Creekside acquisitions, hillside acquisition, Three Trails Crossing and the new fire station.

The projects are now adjusted to be unfunded in the out years (2022-2025) to free up existing debt capacity. A July 8 work session created further changes to the pavement management program and hillside part project, primarily to provide clarity around allocation of funds.

“There is more certainly in the near term and less certainty in the out years,” Pauly said. “Nothing in the CIP is a certainty until we go through subsequent budget processes and is subject to change as council debates some of these larger policy issues in the coming months and years.”

In accordance with state law, municipalities must update their TIP every year. The CIP recommends the city impose a 0.2 percent TBD sales tax with approval by voters. A TBD is an independent taxing district created to find transportation improvements.

“The CIP assumes passage of the sales tax measure, which would position the city to collect an estimated $79.2 million in revenues over 20 years beginning in 2021,” Pauly said.

Before voting on the CIP, Hunt added an amendment for the Creekside improvements to budget for additional properties and create flexibility.

“This is a good plan, and we will start talking more about money when we discuss the budget in October of this year,” Pauly said. “They provided clear direction to me, as mayor, about how to continue the conversation next year.”