PORTLAND — A $21 million capital improvements plan for fiscal year 2020 is headed to the full City Council for review and a vote next month.

The plan was unanimously endorsed by the council Finance Committee Jan. 24, although it faces a potential amendment regarding spending on bicycling infrastructure on city streets.

The plan would borrow $17 million, while the city and School Department would contribute $1 million each in surplus funds. The remaining funding comes largely from state and federal shares for road construction.

The borrowing is $5 million above the level of debt retired by the city this year, and will add 5 cents to the property tax rate beginning in fiscal year 2021, city Finance Director Brendan O’Connell said.

The committee also endorsed the $28.16 million CIP for sewer and stormwater projects. Those bonds will be repaid through sewer fees and the monthly stormwater service charge of $6.30 per every 1,200 square feet of impervious area assessed to city property owners.

O’Cconnell and City Manager Jon Jennings said they expect this to be the last year where the CIP will exceed the level of debt to be retired because of upcoming bond debt to repair and renovate four elementary schools, and the annual $1 million increase in debt for the pension obligation bond that will not be retired until 2026.

The CIP funds $3.5 million for city school projects, largely to replace windows, air handling units and remodel the school kitchen at Deering High School.

At the committee meeting, School Superintendent Xavier Botana and School Board Chairman Roberto Rodriguez said the funding addressed needs outlined in a Sebago Technics facilities report while being fiscally responsible.

The largest single item on the School Department CIP is $660,000 to replace the air conditioning system at Riverton Elementary School.

On the city side of the CIP, Councilor Belinda Ray said she would prefer the $100,000 requested to extend a dedicated bike lane on Park Avenue from St. John to Marston streets be used to pay for the upkeep of the Park Avenue lanes from High to Forest streets opened last September.

Ray was not ready to offer an amendment the plan on Jan. 24, but can do so when the plan is presented to the full council. The CIP will also be discussed at a Feb. 4 council workshop before it has a first reading at a meeting later that day.

The city will continue its remediation work at the former Ocean Avenue landfill, with $300,000 allocated to bring the area outside the new solar farm into compliance with Maine Department of Environmental Protection requirements by the end of the year.

The cap over the landfill will be reinforced to have two feet of cover, and there will also be culvert replacements at ditch work, according to the job description in the city packet.

On Jan. 24, a Maine Red Claws game at the Portland Expo was postponed after roof leaks made the court unplayable. Roof repairs for 28,000 square feet at a cost of $50,000 is part of the CIP, and the city could spend $490,000 next year for a full replacement.

The CIP also allocates $200,000 for masonry repairs on the Expo’s north wall.

The job description sheet detailing the masonry work notes cracks and missing bricks in the north wall, but said these will be the last major repairs the masonry needs. With proper maintenance, it should stand for another century.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Roof and masonry repairs at the Portland Expo, at a cost of $250,000, are part of the city’s $21 million capital improvements plan for next year.


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