Tag Archives: capital improvement program

The Transparency Project: Part 5 – Who Selects the CIP Projects?

10 May

This is the fifth and final post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. We conclude our study of the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), with a look at these questions:

  • Who selects the CIP projects?
  • How are citizens engaged in the process?

City Charter and CIP Process

The CIP text quotes the City Charter and explains the process used to formulate the CIP:

 

Here is a summary of the differences between the process specified in the CIP and City Charter, and the actual process as we discovered in our analysis and after talking with many people working in City Hall:

City Charter and CIP Actual Process
The Planning Director ranks projects for alignment with the City’s Master Plan. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
Unranked projects will not be funded…unless the Planning Department fails to do the ranking. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking, so we assume the loophole is used every year.
There are several other mentions of the project ranking process and how it assures an unbiased, systematic selection process that aligns with the City Master Plans. The Planning Department has no records of any ranking.
“The Transportation Master Plan sets forth the vision and goals for the transportation network in Omaha” The Transportation Master Plan has been largely ignored and neglected.
The CIP formulation process has no provisions for public input. Unfortunately, this is true. Comments to City Council in January and February may make their way to the selection committee, but there is no formal process.

In short, the City Charter is not followed and the process is closed to the public. The City says one thing and does another in a process that is closed to the public.

The Transportation Master Plan

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The Transparency Project: Part 4 – What Are the CIP Projects? Where Are They?

8 May

This is the fourth post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. We continue our study of the City of Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), with a look at these questions:

  • What are the CIP transportation projects?
  • Where are they located?

What are the CIP Projects?

Mode Shift’s CIP database classifies the projects by Work Type:

  • Automobile Capacity – Projects that add lanes of automobile traffic or otherwise allow more automobile capacity.
  • Automobile Infrastructure – Replacement of automobile infrastructure that has reached its end of life, without any increase to automobile capacity.
  • Transit – Improvements to the public transit system. These projects have no City funds and are not run by the City, so perhaps they don’t belong in the CIP. But the BRT project is in the CIP, so we are including it as well.
  • Streetscape – Improvements to a street front such as wider sidewalks, bump out at street crossings, better lighting, and bicycle parking.
  • Pedestrian – Improvements for pedestrian traffic, such as ADA compliant sidewalks, foot bridges, etc.
  • Cycling – Improvements to cycling routes such as protected lanes, painted lanes, signage, etc.
  • Other – Green street corridor study and master plan, and city-wide safety projects.

In all cases, it is the driver behind the project that dictates the category. So if a widening project also replaces aging infrastructure, adds ADA compliant sidewalks and access to a cycling trail, it is considered an Automobile Capacity project, because none of the other improvements would occur if not for the driving desire to widen the street. Mode Shift relied on the CIP project descriptions to apply the Work Type to each project.

The $322 million of Capital Budget spanning from 2017 to 2022 is split as follows:

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The Transparency Project: Part 3 – What Does the Past Cost Tell Us?

6 May

This is the third blog post from the Transparency series, following the steps of the Mode Shift CIP game board. This blog post focuses on the Capital Improvement Program’s (CIP) past cost data:

The Expenditures (actual cost) for each project active in the Previous Year

The Appropriations (funds allocated as budget) for each project scheduled during the Current Year

The Capital Budget (budget designated for Capital Improvement) for each project scheduled during the Next 6 Years

We are going to focus on two questions:

  1. What is the City of Omaha spending on transportation?
  2. Is the CIP reliable?
    • If a project is scheduled to start in a certain year, can we count on it starting as planned?
    • If a project is budgeted for a certain amount, can we count on it cost that amount?

Let’s start with a few definitions:

  • Current Year – The year in which the CIP is published
  • Next 6 Years – The 6 years that follow the Current Year
  • Previous Year – The year before the Current Year

Each CIP is supposed to include:

A. The Expenditures (actual cost) for each project active in the Previous Year.
B. The Appropriations (funds allocated as budget) for each project scheduled during the Current Year.
C. The Capital Budget (budget designated for Capital Improvement) for each project scheduled during the Next 6 Years.

Even though B & C above have different names, we can both treat them as budget. So we can say that each CIP is supposed to include:

A. The actual cost for each project active the Previous Year
B. Project budgets for the Current Year and for the Next 6 years

Let’s return to our questions:

    1. What is the City of Omaha spending on transportation? If we add up all the actual costs, we’ll get the answer.
    2. Is the CIP reliable? If we can show that each project’s actual cost occurs when planned and matches the budget, then the CIP is reliable.

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