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The Planning Commission at Work

Capital Improvement Programs

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As you know, the comprehensive plan establishes policies for current and future land use throughout a community. However, we often forget that the plan, although an important instrument of public policy, cannot by itself produce change.

Zoning and subdivision regulations are the most familiar "tools" used to implement the plan. Another important implementation tool is the capital improvement program, usually referred to as the CIP.

Defining the CIP

The CIP is a management and fiscal planning tool communities can use for financing and constructing needed public improvements and facilities. Properly designed, a CIP enables a community to identify its capital needs, rank them by priority, coordinate their scheduling, and determine the best method of paying for them within the community's fiscal capacity.

In most states, localities have the discretion to determine whether they want to prepare a CIP. Usually, the planning commission annually prepares a recommended CIP, and then forwards it to the local governing body for adoption.

Baseline requirements for CIPs include that the CIP be based on the comprehensive plan and that it schedule capital improvements over a specific number of years (commonly three, five, or six). ...

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