Missouri City and Sugar Land plan for capital spending

The capital projects were decided long before Hurricane Harvey. Consequently, plans could be revised and money reallocated.

The capital projects were decided long before Hurricane Harvey. Consequently, plans could be revised and money reallocated.

Editor’s note: Many daily city operations in Sugar Land and Missouri City took a back seat to efforts helping residents in the face of the Hurricane Harvey disaster. Missouri City approved its capital spending plan for fiscal year 2017-18 over the summer, and Sugar Land is close to finalizing its own plan. The capital projects were decided long before Hurricane Harvey. Consequently, plans could be revised and money reallocated. However, in the week after the storm began, city officials did not know what changes, if any, might occur.

Original story:

With Missouri City’s fiscal year having begun in July and Sugar Land’s fiscal year about to start in October, the two cities have earmarked several million dollars to fund capital improvement projects this year, part of each city’s rolling five-year plan.

Missouri City will spend most of the money it has earmarked for capital projects in FY 2017-18 on transportation projects while Sugar Land’s capital spending is spread more evenly among various types of projects, such as sewerage and roads.

As part of the budget adoption process, which Missouri City completed this summer and which Sugar Land is in the process of doing, both cities have updated their capital improvement plans—five-year spending plans that budget money for long-term capital projects. The projects that are included in those five-year plans usually pertain to a city’s infrastructure, such as water and sewerage components, and other items that are integral to keeping a city functioning.

“People just expect the water to run when they turn on the faucet,” said Chris Steubing, assistant city manager for Sugar Land. “People don’t think about the time and money that’s put into those projects because they’re underground. Pavement gets more attention because everybody drives and walks on sidewalks.”

Five-year plans

Missouri City and Sugar Land plan for capital spendingSugar Land’s five-year capital improvement plan calls for spending about $130.5 million from FY 2017-18 through FY 2021-22. Meanwhile, Missouri City’s five-year capital improvement plan calls for spending about $48.1 million over that time span.

Planning for such major building projects involves looking ahead many years, city officials said.

“It’s absolutely necessary to look 20 years into the future when it comes to major projects,” said Scott Elmer, assistant city manager for Missouri City.

Elmer said the decision-making process involves consulting a city’s other long-term planning documents that guide officials in decisions about infrastructure. Missouri City updates its 20-year plans every five years or so.

Sugar Land streets and drainage-related projects are budgeted to receive the largest chunk of that money, a total of about $58.5 million, according to its plan.

Transportation projects will consume nearly half of what Missouri City will spend over the coming five years. Elmer said road repair will continue to play a large role in the city’s capital spending plans in the years to come.

“You’ll see transportation as being a major component of the capital improvement plan for the foreseeable future,” Elmer said. “The city is 60 years old; there’s a lot of rehabilitation and maintenance [of streets] that has to be performed.”

Missouri City’s plan calls for holding transportation steady in FY 2019-20 through FY 2021-22, when the city will fund traffic studies and mapping, sidewalk repair, traffic signal upgrades and concrete repair at a total of about $2.7 million per year.

After transportation projects, Missouri City’s five-year plan calls for spending another $14.4 million on drainage projects in the coming years.

Missouri City and Sugar Land plan for capital spendingFY 2017-18 spending

The cities’ budgeted amounts for capital spending in FY 2017-18 are similar—Sugar Land will spend about $22 million this year while Missouri City will spend about $16 million. Of the $16 million Missouri City intends to spend, over $10.1 million will go toward road projects, including $4.75 million earmarked for upgrades to Independence Boulevard. Elmer said those upgrades will include repair work on sidewalks, curbs and gutters along Independence from Scanlin to Court roads.

Missouri City’s plan also calls for extending Knight Road from Fort Bend Toll Road south to McKeever Road, with $2.65 million budgeted for that project.

This year, Sugar Land will spend the biggest chunks of money on wastewater and streets-related projects, $6.1 million and $4.2 million, respectively.

In Sugar Land, about $3.5 million will be spent on maintenance and repairs for the city’s sewer system, repairing sewer mains and manholes throughout Sugar Land. About $1.75 million will be spent evaluating and rehabbing the city’s lift stations, which are used for pumping wastewater. Smaller amounts are earmarked to repair and upgrade parts of three sewage treatment plants, Sugar Land’s north and south treatment plants, and a sewage plant in New Territory.

The bulk of the $4.2 million Sugar Land has earmarked for street-related projects this year will go for pavement rehabilitation. The city plans to spend roughly the same amount for the next five years on pavement rehab, the amount fluctuating narrowly between about $2.6 million and $3.1 million per year.

Steubing said that work involves things, such as fixing drainage and grading problems, in order to slow down the aging process of concrete roads.

“It really extends the life of major boulevards,” Steubing said. “You get another 25 to 30 years [from a roadway].”

Meanwhile, smaller amounts of money will pay for the design work related to other road projects with those projects scheduled for future years.

Other projects planned

Sugar Land is also planning to spend $1.4 million to demolish the vacant state prison located off Hwy. 6 near Sugar Land Regional Airport. The former Central Prison Unit, which consists of over 90 structures, should be leveled by summer 2018, Steubing said.

Another $2.1 million will be spent to address drainage issues in the Covington Woods area, north of Hwy. 90 and west of Eldridge Road, where streets can be slow to drain after heavy rainfall.

“These neighborhoods were designed in the late ’60s,” he said. “That’s prior to the design standards that have since been adopted by the city or the county.”

Missouri City, meanwhile, will spend $1 million on design work for a new fire station to be built off Lake Olympia Parkway, west of the Fort Bend Toll Road. Staff will likely propose construction of the new station begin in FY 2018-19, Elmer said. Additionally, another $2.55 million will go toward expanding Missouri City drainage ditches used to carry rainwater away from streets and homes.

As the year progresses and work on all these projects moves forward, city officials will prepare to again update their rolling capital spending plans.

“When it comes to major utility projects, we’re looking at those from a 10-year window,” Steubing said. “We base those decisions on historical information and population projections.”