“Things do not happen, Things are made to happen”
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Every day, when I drive through Brentwood I see the amazing things this community has done together and the potential for further growth, I think of Kennedy’s words. Economic growth and prosperity does not just happen randomly upon an area. A lot of hard work is put in by the residents, businesses and the local government. The community recognizes its assets as what makes it unique. We must then plan the most efficient way to utilize these assets, as fortune favors the prepared mind. With these thoughts in mind, the Borough is nearing completion on its first Ten-Year Capital Improvement Plan.
This document sorts projects from each year into debt service, earmarked expenditures, or discretionary spending. Debt service is money that the Borough is legally required to pay each year. Often times, the Borough does not have the cash on hand to finance large capital projects. Thus, the borough needs to issue bonds and sign leases to pay for these projects. Half of each year’s Capital Improvement Fund is taken up by this mandated spending. It is healthy for a municipality to have some level of debt service, and Brentwood’s debt service to revenue ratio is only 7.84%. For comparison, the City of Pittsburgh’s ratio is 15.64% and Bethel Park’s is 10.92%.
Earmarked spending is money that has been approved by Council for a specific purpose or project. This includes the Storm Water Management Program, the Street Rehabilitation Program, the Sidewalk Cost Sharing Program, and the Sign Management Program. These plans have all been previously authorized by Council, and integrating them into one cohesive section better allows for the Borough to plan for the future. All other projects fall under the discretionary category. From the title, it may seem that these projects are not critical to the ongoing success of the Borough. However, this is not the case, as critical items such as police cars and plow trucks are included here. This category also features projects such as replacing the roof of the library and upgrading the Civic Center. These projects are not mandated by law or by resolution from council, so there is discretion as to when they should be completed. However, upgrading and maintaining the Borough’s current capital stock is critical for sustainable economic growth.
The next step in the process is for the plan to be formally presented to Council for a vote. I truly believe the Borough is on the cusp of an economic boom and that this plan is a critical piece of the puzzle. This plan will enable to Borough to position itself for long term sustainable growth, while keeping the sense of community and all that has made Brentwood an excellent place to live.
George Zboyovsky, PE