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A real-world capital improvement planning (CIP) scenario is explored from our client community in Pleasant Hill, Iowa.

Eric Cannon, PE

Eric Cannon, PE

Civil Engineer

Subdivision and Site Development Engineering, Stormwater Modeling, Master Planning, Municipal Engineering, Construction Assistance

City of Pleasant Hill Client Case Study

We’ve been working with Pleasant Hill for about 12, 13 years now. Their original CIP Plan consisted of a whiteboard in the basement where you had public works people sketching out projects when people would call and complain or for somebody’s wish list. They really looked for an opportunity to formalize that and understand what the needs were, and what the costs of all that was going to be.

I got all the booklets here. The first one I’ve got out here is in 2012, which is when we put the first one together. I would say that was a little bit more of a process. There were several meetings with the city, the council, with a lot of the staff members, and we had to take all those projects down.

What we like to do is put a concept plan together where we’ve got an aerial background and we sketch out where the road’s going to go, and then we accompany that with a cost estimate. I think it helps everybody see it visually what the commitment is going to be but also understand the underlying costs to it. It helps us really narrow those costs downs, too, because when you’re sketching it in or putting that concept together you start thinking about drainage, utilities, and all those other things that might be associated with it.

We started that in 2012 and then what we’ve done is every three years they reach out to us and we update that booklet. We got projects that get taken care of and we knock those off the list. Then we get new priorities that come into town, new infrastructure commitments that need to be done and update that list. We’ve done that in 2012, 2015, and then 2018. What I find interesting is the first list we had was 15 projects and about $10 million worth of work. The second one we did in 2015 turned into 20 projects at about $28 million worth of work. The last one we just did here in 2018 was 39 projects and just shy of $70 million. Some of those are big, huge commitments. The southeast connector in Pleasant Hill was a big multi-year project, multi-jurisdiction with the DOT and the City of Des Moines, so that number is a little skewed. I think in all it shows the forward-thinking and the needs of these communities continue to grow, as the communities continue to grow.

As we updated all those booklets, that process got a lot smoother and a lot easier. It went from multiple meetings with multiple people, putting that booklet together and figuring out the format, to now we just update it every three years. There’s a couple of meetings with the city and then we come back and update either the cost estimates on projects that aren’t done so they get real-time costs, or get the new projects plugged into the book and get that back out to everybody. Then the mayor has a copy, the city manager has a copy, the community development director has a copy, and public works has a copy. So everybody has got that booklet and they can talk off of it. You’d be surprised how many times it comes up in council meetings where, hey, you know that one project we talked about putting that road over there? Then they’ll say, hey what’s that cost estimate? Then people will flip open their books. So it really becomes a living document that people use over the years.

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