The team was up to the task. In fiscal year 2019-20, which ended Sept. 30, the department met its goal of spending $50 million on capital improvement projects in a single year, which is a good sign, officials said.
“It’s an indicator that things are ... getting completed,” said Project Management Director Angie Steelman, who oversees the department.
Through FY 2016-17, the city’s engineering department oversaw capital improvement projects. However, accommodating developers who want to build in League City is a priority, meaning capital projects were not necessarily given the attention they needed, City Manager John Baumgartner said.
Knowing residents wanted League City to fix roads and alleviate flooding citywide, the city in FY 2017-18 established the project management department of employees concentrating solely on getting capital projects approved, designed and constructed. There is overlap in work with the engineering department, but having a separate office focused on capital projects allows that work to progress faster, Steelman said.
“They’re excited to rev up even more,” she said.
Since it was established, the office had a goal to hit $50 million in capital project expenditures in a single year. At first, the office thought it would have the goal hit by FY 2018-19, Steelman said.
That was not the case.
In FY 2017-18, the office spent about $26 million on capital projects. The amount was virtually the same the following year, Steelman said.
Capital projects take years to get approved, designed and ultimately built, and it is not until projects are under construction that the dollars start flowing. In FY 2019-20, the office saw the fruits of its labor over the previous years, and now it wants to do more, Steelman said.
“They like challenges,” she said. “They’re a competitive group.”
The city is still receiving invoices for capital project work done through Sept. 30. As of Nov. 10, the total spent on capital improvement projects in FY 2019-20 was $59.3 million, and that could grow to closer to $60 million by the time all invoices are received, Baumgartner and Steelman said.
Baumgartner said it is due to the work of the growing program the city was able to invest so much in capital projects last fiscal year.
“We put more people resources toward the program,” he said, noting the annual budget includes money to add new employees to the about 15-person department each year.
Additionally, FY 2019-20 included the construction of Fire Station No. 6 and the new animal shelter, which contributed to the $59.3 million figure.
“Facilities are kinda something that comes and goes. They’re not a ton of money, but they’re not cheap, either,” Steelman said.
FY 2019-20 also included work on bond-funded projects related to drainage and roads and a payment on the new water line from Houston for which League City will ultimately pay over $60 million.
With the $50 million milestone achieved, the next goal is $70 million, Baumgartner said. With numerous drainage and road projects under design, there is plenty to work on.
“We get measured by what we get done,” Baumgartner said. “The only thing we care about is what we get done.”