What is the CIP?
The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is one of the most significant planning processes for Arlington County. It is the County’s 10-year plan for building, maintaining, upgrading or replacing public facilities and infrastructure. This includes libraries, parks, community centers, technology systems, water, sewer, stormwater and transportation infrastructure—and more.
The plan identifies immediate needs but also seeks to capture long-term capital needs. It is updated biennially and subject to change as the needs of the community become more defined and individual projects move along in their planning and budgeting processes. The effective use of a CIP process provides for considerable advance project identification, planning, evaluation, scope definition, design, public discussion, cost estimating and financial planning.
How is the CIP different from the County’s operating budget?
The County Board adopts an operating budget annually, which appropriates the expenditures required to execute ongoing County operations, as well as identifies the revenues necessary to finance the budget. The operating budget includes each County department’s operating costs, such as personnel and ongoing contractual costs. Also included in the County budget are capital financing costs, such as debt service for County issued bonds to finance large capital projects, and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) financing for capital maintenance and smaller capital expenditures.
The CIP, adopted separately from the County budget and on a biennial basis, is a 10-year plan that identifies the County’s major capital investments in facilities and infrastructure. While the budget and CIP are developed and adopted independently of one another, the decisions made in the formulation of each impacts the other with respect to cost and affordability. Planned capital projects in the CIP usually have ongoing operating impacts that need to be incorporated in the annual operating budget, and programmatic changes in the operating budget sometimes have an effect on the capital budget.
Why should I care about the CIP?
Continued reinvestment in existing assets combined with strategic investments in new assets is essential to the County’s future success. The choices the County makes about public facilities and infrastructure have a major impact on our everyday quality of life. What amenities will our recreation centers have? What equipment will our police and fire departments need to keep us safe? How many ART buses and bicycle lanes will be part of our transportation network? How quickly will we be able to replace aging water and sewer mains? The CIP process is where these types of questions are considered!
Note: The County Government’s CIP is separate from the Arlington Public Schools’ CIP, which is prepared by APS.