County Makes No Promises With Capital Project Wish List

SNOW HILL – Capital project scheduling changes related to the current national economic crisis prompted the County Commissioners to postpone a vote last week on the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) this week.

“There are a number of projects in here that probably need to be pushed back,” said county administrator Gerry Mason.

The county CIP is considered a “wish list” of projects the county would like to pursue in the next 10 years. Every year when it is presented county officials and staff emphasize that a project’s listing in the CIP does not guarantee that it will be built.

Mason said that many projects without attached funds should be pushed further into the future.

“It will be dramatically different than what you have before you,” he said.

The Worcester County CIP includes 42 projects, ranging from new buildings to new lighting at county parks.

The new Berlin Senior Center is planned in the current draft of the CIP for 2009, as are renovations to the Oliver Purnell House in Snow Hill and additional land and improvements at Showell Park.

The Route 50 service road also shows funding in each of the next three years. Work on the Mystic Harbor Wastewater Treatment Plant is also listed for near future funding.

While the commissioners did not name which projects would be pushed back, a summary spreadsheet issued by the county showed several with no associated funds in FY 2008 or FY 2009, including a new Berlin branch Library, which officials promise will not be relocated from in Main Street site, a new county storage building and an Ocean Pines water tower.

The CIP public hearing last week attracted only four speakers, who offered either praise for the plan or asked procedural questions. No one objected to any elements in the plan.

The commissioners said they would not hold a second public hearing to consider the changes in the plan that they will vote on in December.

Only the dates will change, not the estimated project costs, except on three school addition or renovation initiatives. The Board of Education numbers on those school projects will be reduced with inflation costs subtracted from the school board’s estimates to match the county’s cost projections that do not take inflation into account.

“None of us are raising taxes, so we’re going to afford what we can afford,” said Commission President Virgil Shockley.