July 17, 2024 Donate

Saline, Saline Government

Saline Adopts Comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan

City Manager Colleen O’Toole (left) and City Treasurer Elle Cole during the City Council Working Meeting that preceded the City Council meeting on Monday, February 12, 2024. Photo courtesy City of Saline.

Saline has a new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in place for 2025-2030 following approval by the City Council at its meeting on Monday, February 12, 2024. The unanimous vote came after a detailed and thoughtful discussion between council members, City Manager Colleen O’Toole, City Treasurer Elle Cole, several city department heads, and staff that occurred during the working meeting directly preceding the 7 pm council meeting.

During that discussion, O’Toole led participants through a summarized list of capital improvement projects included in the CIP. Those projects range from road and sidewalk improvements to culvert replacements, from play structures and infrastructure improvements to facility improvements and public safety equipment purchases.

In a memo written to the council introducing the CIP, Cole said the plan “involves a comprehensive evaluation of existing assets, identification of areas requiring improvement or expansion, and the establishment of funding mechanisms to support these initiatives.”

O’Toole explained it is important to note that the CIP is not a final list of approved and funded capital improvement projects. “One thing I do want to share is the CIP is not a ‘this-is-absolutely-happening’ kind of document,” she said. “This is a future roadmap for the projects that we would like to see come to fruition. You’ll note that for several of those projects, there are significant funding gaps and they will be contingent based on whether we can secure financing or the appropriate other resources [like] staff time and availability.”

The total estimated price tag for Saline’s six-year aspirational CIP is just over $163,000,000. That total covers approved and funded capital projects already in progress, like those for water and sewer, but as O’Toole mentioned, it also includes some pie-in-the-sky, unfunded projects like a full Rec Center renovation. Several times throughout the discussion, O’Toole, Cole, Mayor Marl, and multiple council members reiterated that inclusion in this plan does not mean a project is funded, approved, or even happening.

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the purpose of a CIP is a planning tool municipalities use to understand and track their near-term infrastructure needs and to coordinate with other governments and agencies. For example, including the unfunded capital improvement projects in the plan will assist in attracting grants for those projects because grant funding agencies often give priority to projects that are well-documented and strategically designed to fit within a municipality’s long-term outlook.

It is also important to note that the CIP includes only capital improvement projects. By definition, capital improvement projects are “the addition of a permanent structural change or the restoration of some aspect of a property that will either enhance the property’s overall value, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses.” In Saline, projects estimated to cost under $100,000 are usually not considered a capital improvement and thus do not appear in this plan.

At one point, Councilperson Harmount asked if the plan could be updated to denote which projects were funded and which projects were not for the sake of clarity. O’Toole replied that they could add notes to the document for each project with details about funding, dependencies, and contingencies.

In a follow-up email to STN, Treasurer Cole also pointed out that detailed information about all of Saline’s capital improvement projects, including supporting documentation, can be found on the city’s website by clicking the ClearGov link. The projects included in the newly adopted plan should be available to view within a week.