7 CIP Preparation, Prioritization and Scoring
The City of Charlotte currently develops a 5-year Community Investment Program (CIP) that funds capital investments into the community via large bonds (repaid with dedicated CIP revenues), a PAYGO (pay as you go) program that funds annual capital improvements, and dedicated capital improvements revenues in non-governmental funds (e.g. Charlotte Water). The City’s CIP plan is developed annually through the budgeting process. The CIP process starts with city departments identifying projects for consideration from a wide majority of sources including (but not limited to) Strategic/Action Plans, Community Area Plans, Specific Plans, community outreach, city council recommendations, and others. Prioritized projects are vetted through a community outreach process. Then City Council and City Staff hold budget workshops to refine the CIP project list. Lastly, the CIP plan is posted for public comment and goes through a formal adoption process by City Council.
The City uses a set of loosely defined, high-level criteria to review and prioritize projects for the CIP. Identified projects much support or further guiding principles for the CIP including: address one of four City Council priority areas; support neighborhoods, street network, and/or housing opportunities; preserve and enhance the tax base; and retain the City’s credit rating. Projects are also organized based on how they fit within fund strategies (bond program or PAYGO). General CIP “projects” fit within two groups; large/high cost major investments or investments that fit within a package/group of investments addressing a major initiative (e.g. ADA investments or Opportunity Corridors program).
The Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan provides substantial direction for the future development of the CIP. As well, the plan lays out an updated and comprehensive set of goals the community wants to achieve over the plan horizon. The plan also introduces new frameworks for considering where and how investments should be made in the community to achieve desired land use patterns and to address systemic racial and demographic inequities through the plan’s Big Ideas and Equitable Growth Framework.
The City’s approach to the CIP should change to:
- Reflect the vision for the community identified within the 10 Plan goals;
- Prioritize the implementation of the Plan’s Big Policy Ideas; and
- Use the Equitable Growth Framework to direct investment into areas lack in access or are vulnerable to displacement.
Changes to CIP to integrate the Comprehensive Plan should be made in two ways to achieve the plans goals and objectives. First, the approach to identifying projects can be modified to align with the plan’s direction. Second, the approach to prioritizing projects and building the CIP can be modified to align with framework of the plan.
The following recommendation changes should be considered to modify the City’s process for CIP project identification:
- Create a process for cross-departmental efforts to identify and promote projects for the CIP.
- Use the Equitable Growth Framework to promote projects that address access to job opportunities, access to housing opportunities, access to essential amenities, goods and services, and environmental justice issues.
- Use the Implementation Committee to develop CIP programs/project lists to implement the Plan’s Big Policy Ideas.
- Integrate the Comprehensive Plan Goal’s into the community engagement process to organize projects by Goal and illustrate how potential projects align with the Plan.
- Require promoted projects to include estimates for on-going operational cost impacts and identification of a funding/management plan to address these impacts.
The following recommended changes should be considered to modify the City’s project prioritization process for the CIP:
- Develop a more formal scoring process for evaluation of priority projects that aligns with the Comprehensive Plan.
- Align City Council Priority Areas with the Plan’s Goals to develop evaluation criteria for the prioritization projects.
- Prioritize projects that address multiple Plan goals.
- Prioritize projects that implement the Plan’s Big Policy Ideas.
- Prioritize projects that serve and/or benefit the vulnerable areas identified in the Equitable Growth Framework in order to direct at least half of public infrastructure spending over next 20 years to the most vulnerable communities.
- Prioritize projects that are promoted by multiple departments or have financial support/partnerships with Mecklenburg County or other project partners.
- Prioritize projects that have a plan to address on-going funding and maintenance of investments.