The Leesburg Town Council will pore over a $46 million list of sidewalk, sewer, storm drain and other projects this week and decide which capital improvements the town should pay for in the coming fiscal year and which can be delayed or dropped altogether.
Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd said the consensus among council members was to give highest priority to storm drainage projects.
"There's been a lot of flooding of basements around town," Umstattd said, citing the areas around North King Street and Wage Drive and Union Cemetery.
Umstattd said she was especially eager to see a proposed $650,000 drainage improvement to King Street near Town Branch creek, which she said she hoped would be aesthetically pleasing and help stimulate redevelopment in that part of the town's historic district.
After a discussion at Monday night's work session, the council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), another step toward finalizing a budget for 2005-06.
To finance all $46 million worth of projects on the list for 2005 would require a $7.5 million bond issue, the highest in at least three years, said Michael Freda, the town's budget officer. He said most of the money for capital projects comes from other sources, such as grants, donations and proffers.
The list of projects under consideration includes:
* More than $26 million for utility projects, primarily an expansion of the town's water pollution control facility to process sewage. Almost all of that project has been paid for in advance by fees charged to new homes and businesses to hook up water and sewer services, Freda said.
* Nearly $2.7 million for work at Leesburg Executive Airport, including resurfacing the runway and building a fence around the airport. Freda said about 95 percent of that money would come from state and federal sources.
* More than $7 million for future construction costs to extend Battlefield Parkway from Sycolin Road to Route 7, almost all of which would come from federal sources.
Town Manager Robert S. Noe Jr. said he would recommend that the Town Council approve the CIP he originally submitted in his proposed $100 million budget, which would require $7.8 million in bonds. Noe's budget also included a two-cent tax increase for the coming fiscal year, which was rejected by the council. Noe said the council could still pass his proposed CIP and raise taxes next year instead.
Umstattd said she was opposed to any tax increase.
"The new council is going to have to face this issue, and it's not going to be much fun," she said.
Council member Robert J. "Bob" Zoldos said several proposals for this year should be postponed in favor of more immediate priorities, specifically storm drainage improvements.
"Flooding is something [residents] can't take care of, that we have to do," Zoldos said. He described a proposed $550,000 improvement project on West Market Street as entailing mostly sidewalk construction rather than immediate drainage enhancement, and he said it should be postponed.
Noe said the Market Street sidewalk improvements were needed to provide residents on the west side of town with pedestrian access to the community. He also cited the importance of another proposed sidewalk project near Loudoun County High School, where he said children sometimes walk in the street. That work would cost about $310,000.
Zoldos also suggested delaying a $475,000 outlay for a South King Street bicycle trail until Meadowbrook, a nearby residential development, finalizes its own plans for a trail. He also strongly objected to a plan for $615,000 worth of maintenance to a pond at Olde Izaak Walton Park.
"I'm not going to spend over half a million dollars to drain a pond and clear off the lily pads or whatever is wrong with it," Zoldos said. During recent Town Council work sessions, the project was tentatively deferred to fiscal year 2007.
Even after the CIP is adopted, no definite resolution on its funding is likely to be reached until the town receives reports from its auditors detailing its financial situation and after the new council takes office July 1, according to the mayor.
"The big question for all of us is whether we can find the funds to do this without a tax increase," Umstattd said.