20-08-07 Bellevue City Hall 3.jpg

Bellevue officials are eyeing a new city hall for the site of the existing building, pictured here.

The city of Bellevue has big plans for capital improvements over the next five years, including street redevelopments, new water lines and a new city hall. An ongoing discussion by city leaders about the price of these projects will help them decide how much to charge developers for a share of the cost.

The Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed on Monday a draft capital improvement plan update, the first since 2014, in hopes of using it to establish the city’s first development impact fee. The fee would be charged to developers based on a pro-rated projected cost for improvements needed to accommodate new growth in the city.

The draft CIP, presented by Rich Caplan of Caplan & Associates, calls for nearly $4.8 million in capital improvements, or city infrastructure projects, from 2020 to 2025. It was written based on input from all city departments as to what they would require over the next five years.

A capital improvement plan involves evaluation of the city’s infrastructure, a prioritized list of projects and a schedule for the projects’ completion as well as cost estimates. Bellevue’s CIP calls for $1.4 million in sewer system upgrades, $448,000 for the water system, $2 million in street upgrades, $52,000 in library expenses, a new city hall at the same site costing $500,000 and other expenses.

Caplan said the proposed plan was “ambitious” based on the city’s previous modest capital expenditures and that it would need to be recalculated if annexation of the proposed 227-acre Eccles Flying Hat Ranch occurs. The plan already takes into account the 205-unit Strahorn subdivision.

“The capital improvement plan should be a balance between what is realistic and what is aspirational,” Caplan said in an interview.

Community Development Dir-ector Diane Shay said in an interview that it would be premature to comment on whether the proposed Eccles annexation and development would be included in the capital improvement plan, until the Blaine County Commissioners make a final ruling on whether Bellevue’s area of city impact would include the area requested for annexation.

The city’s capital improvement plan and associated development impact fees will likely have a significant impact on the city’s finances. By comparison, in 2016 Hailey updated its capital improvement plan to undertake $12.8 million in capital improvements over 10 years, with $4 million coming from development impact fees and $8.8 million from general fund revenue.

Caplan said funding from development impact fees would be allocated by the city council “as long as they are allocated to the capital improvement plan projects,” he said.

P&Z sought various clarifications from department heads on projected expenses and will reconvene on Aug. 17 to continue the discussion.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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