County plan lists project priorities, costs

FRONT ROYAL – School projects will continue to make up the bulk of Warren County’s capital spending for the next few years.

A draft of the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal 2017 under consideration by the Planning Commission lists dozens of small- and large-scale projects, sorted by priority, along with estimated costs. The plan spreads the cost of most projects over the next five years and, in some cases, beyond the time period. The latest draft covering fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2021 includes fewer projects as the county completed some in the previous plan.

The highest priority remains the ongoing, road improvement projects the county pursues through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s cost-sharing program. The county budgets matching funds that go to pay for these road projects.

Renovations to Ressie Jeffries Elementary School at an estimated cost of about $11.29 million come in second on the projects list. The previous Capital Improvement Plan listed Ressie Jeffries as the school system’s second-highest priority after the new middle school. With the construction of the new middle school underway, Ressie Jeffries moved to the top of system’s priorities.

The county has completed almost $195 million worth of projects listed in the capital improvement plan since the first such document created in fiscal 1998. More than $160 million of that amount, or almost 83 percent, was for the projects for the county public school system.

The latest version of the capital improvement plan includes projects with a total, estimated cost of $72.63 million. School projects make up approximately $50.53 million or 69.5 percent of the total. The plan indicates that the county would pay almost $67 million or approximately 92 percent of the total.

While the capital improvement plan is seen as an advisory document, most of the projects in the wish list are eventually completed.

“Once the plan is adopted, individual project priorities may change throughout the course of the year,” the plan’s introduction states. “It is quite possible that a certain project may not be funded during the year indicated in the (plan). Individual project funding requests must be submitted annually by the requesting department as part of the County’s budget process.”

County agencies submitted lists of capital projects in November to the Planning Department as part of the process to update the Capital Improvement Plan. The document serves as a guide to help the Board of Supervisors develop the fiscal budget. The county last updated the plan two years ago for fiscal 2015. The Planning Commission evaluated the requests in December, scored and prioritized the projects.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft of the plan March 9. The Board of Supervisors will then hold a hearing on the document.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or