Several projects unfunded, underfunded in Champaign's $418.4 million plan

Several projects unfunded, underfunded in Champaign's $418.4 million plan

CHAMPAIGN — Despite more than $418.4 million in proposed spending, Champaign's updated capital improvements plan doesn't address all the needs identified in the planning process, city staff said in a memo to council members.

A number of projects still remain unfunded or underfunded, and additional ones are delayed beyond their optimal schedule, according to the memo prepared for tonight's council discussion.

Among them:

— New city facilities for vehicle maintenance, improvements to arterial streets and projects to fill sidewalk gaps, which are unfunded in the 10-year plan.

— The much-talked-about Garden Hills Drainage Improvements project, also nowhere in the 10-year plan, though council members have directed staff to look for ways to advance the project more quickly than scheduled.

— Parking lot rehab projects and maintenance, currently only funded to the level of emergency repairs, at $10,000 a year.

Master plans have identified an additional annual need of about $3 million to cover street reconstruction and bridge and sidewalk replacement, which are also underfunded.

And the $1.7 million project to connect Interstate Drive to Market Street, set for 2027-28, is delayed past the optimal schedule.

There are a few reasons for these delays and lack of funding, staff note, citing the need to shift funds to cover higher-than-expected bids for the Multimodal Corridor Enhancement project and the addition of major projects in recent years, including the John Street and Washington Street drainage improvements.

Other obstacles: the substandard infrastructure the city added when it annexed Garden Hills in the 1990s and unfunded mandates from state and federal governments.

But, staff added, adopting a local motor fuel tax, the stormwater utility fee and increasing the hotel-motel tax have led to progress in reducing the backlog of projects.

The stormwater fee in particular has allowed the city to push forward the West Washington and Boneyard basin projects.

Two years ago, the council increased that fee by 6 percent — with another 6 percent increase scheduled for 2021 — to allow for the Garden Hills Drainage Improvement project to move forward, though it still falls outside the 10-year plan.

The council will have to decide tonight whether to direct staff to complete the plan and submit it for adoption, or adjust a draft of it to accomplish other priorities.