The next five years of capital spending in Oklahoma City will involve nearly a half-billion dollars on water supply issues alone, city officials told the Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday.
Three city departments presented their budgets within the city's nearly $2.5 billion Capital Improvement Plan during Tuesday's council meeting. The five-year plan is a document that has to be updated every two years for the city to remain in compliance with state law.
The utilities, parks and recreation and information technology departments were the first to present their plans, with other city departments to follow in coming weeks. The council can make modifications to the plan before it adopts it in the fall.
The Utilities Department has plans to spend about $653 million on capital projects over the next five years, department Director Marsha Slaughter told the council. About $488 million of that is on the water supply as the department seeks to upgrade its raw water transport capabilities, the capacity of its drinking water production and the ability to move water through the city.
“The time has come to add capacity to our system,” Slaughter said.
The city will need to move more water from lakes in southeastern Oklahoma in the coming years to meet growing demand, Slaughter said. More pumping stations and water mains also will be built within the city to maintain water supply and pressure even on the outskirts of town, and projects to upgrade water treatment plants also are ongoing.
The city Parks and Recreation Department plans to spend about $47 million on facility improvements, $32 million on parks and about $8 million on trails and paths, department Director Wendel Whisenhunt said.
Part of the unfunded portion of the parks budget is for a $15 million renovation to the Freede Little Theater in the Civic Center Music Hall, which didn't get renovated as part of the original MAPS program that renovated much of the rest of the building. About $10 million for a new aquatic center in northeast Oklahoma City also is included but not funded.
About 7 percent of the overall Capital Improvement Plan is unfunded, but that's a smaller percentage of the budget than in recent years. It's a hole that city Budget Director Doug Dowler has said can be closed by the city council with careful advance planning.
Whisenhunt said he's happy the parks department has a capital improvement budget at all, after it was left mostly stripped of capital project funding for more than two decades.
“The amount that's funded is going to allow us to continue to make progress in the parks system toward making ours the most exemplary ... in the country,” he said. “We have that as a realistic goal.”
About $36 million in upgrades to the city's radio system makes up the bulk of the Information Technology Department's capital spending plans over the next five years, department Director Schad Meldrum said.
Included in the spending plan is an effort to redesign the city's website, www.okc.gov, and add more services that can be used online.
There are no plans to install cameras in city police cars with the current plan. Police Chief Bill Citty said the cameras are cost prohibitive for now, but he's interested in installing them when funding is available.