Summit County Council will discuss funding the initial $6.7 million for this year’s proposed capital improvement projects at tonight’s meeting and decide whether to approve the package or continue to review it.



The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) includes plans for the next five years.



The objectives of the program are to maintain and upgrade county facilities, roads, bridges, water and sewer lines; to minimize long-term operating costs; promote economic development; and to improve financial planning by comparing needs with resources.



Brian Nelsen, the county director of finance and budget, said the legislation on the table is only for those projects where local funding is already in hand.



“It’s those projects we know for sure we are moving forward with and have the money to do it,” he said. “Normally, the bigger projects we bring in as we move forward in bidding the projects.”



Some work might wait



The largest project is the $2.9 million for the county’s routine pavement maintenance. Other large expenses include $1.2 million in vehicle purchases in various departments, $435,000 in sewer improvements and $365,000 in highway engineering projects that include traffic signal upgrades and railroad crossings.



The entire capital improvement budget this year is estimated to cost $27.7 million. But Nelsen said sometimes projects have to be pushed back a year or two.



“The capital improvement plan is a plan, not a hard budget document.”



Some of the primary capital projects that are slated for this year in the full capital plan include $11 million for sewer projects (about 41 percent of the total budget), about $10 million for roads and bridges, $4.4 million for facility improvements, $1.2 million in vehicle costs for various departments and $842,000 for computer systems and equipment.



Major sewer projects



Mike Weant, director of the Department of Environmental Services, said the biggest sewer project this year is upgrading the Springfield plant, which involves seven different locations.



“The $4.8 million is mostly a reinvestment into the plant on the major portions of the plant that are worn out. ... We expect anywhere from 25 to 35 years’ life of a wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “This project is a reinvestment to change some of our [chemical] processes to be more efficient and to allow us to meet ongoing EPA regulations.”



It will cost $385,000 to demolish and replace the 35-year-old Vanderhoff Road pump station in Barberton, due to its poor condition.



Two of the capital projects should benefit the area environmentally and economically.



The county has partnered with a private developer for the Seasons Road Eco-Greene Industrial Park, involving 161 acres off Seasons Road. That cost is $425,000.



“That’s all new construction and all new jobs coming to the area. All made available because we built a pump station several years ago,” Weant said.



The other partnership with a private developer is the Campus Drive project, in which the county will work with the developer Albrecht. The joint project cost is $882,000.



“We have about $488,000 in a federal grant, and the developer is contributing the rest. It’s an area Albrecht is trying to develop and is mostly office space,” Weant said. “That would all be new growth over there. If we can get new sewer customers, that’s always beneficial to the revenue strength.”



Another program, the Clinton sewer design and land acquisition project, will cost $600,000.



“The unsewered territory is located at the southwest corner of Summit County. We’ve worked hand in hand with the health department on this one,” Weant said.



He said there are two motivations for the project: eliminate areas with high numbers of failing septic systems, which pollute streams; and put in sewer infrastructure to promote growth.



“This is the beginning of roughly 15 projects in southwest Summit County over the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.



Road, ditch improvements



The engineer’s office will take up 36 percent of the project funding this year, with much of the money going toward road and ditch improvements.



Heidi Swindell, of the engineer’s office, said $5.8 million of its budget will be used for those purposes. She named two specific major resurfacing projects, each budgeted for $800,000: Cleveland-Massillon Road from Ghent Road to Ira Road (2.4 miles); and Ghent Road from Sourek Road to Cleveland-?Massillon Road along with Cleveland-Massillon Road from state Route 18 to Springdale Road.



She said $5.4 million, or about 55 percent of the funding, will come from federal and state sources. The balance will be spent from local funds.



Swindell said another big expense are the bridge improvements, which will cost $3.7 million. There are four bridges under construction this year: Cleveland-Massillon Road Bridge over Van Hyning, $301,406; East North Street Bridge over the Little Cuyahoga River, nearly $1.7 million; Harrington Road Bridge over the Tuscarawas Diversion Dam, $570,000; and Medina Line Road Bridge over Yellow Creek, $680,040. Several other bridges only have to be repaired and not replaced.



The biggest facility improvement in the capital improvement budget is the upgrade of the regional 800-megahertz radio system. The new system will connect more than 30 agencies in communities throughout Summit County. The project requires $2.4 million in federal funds. The county would contribute $280,000 in local funds as a grant match.



This is phase one of a project expected to cost $34 million over the next five years.



The Summit County charter requires the county executive to submit a capital improvement program annually by Feb. 15.



Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or mmiller@thebeaconjournal.com.