The Compass - February E-News from Baltimore City Planning

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The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

February 2013

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Breaking News:  We interrupt this regularly scheduled e-news blast to congratulate the SUPER BOWL CHAMPION BALTIMORE RAVENS! Congratulations, and thank you  for representing our City with grace and pride!

A Message from the Director…

On February 14, the Planning Commission will be reviewing the City’s capital improvement program, a plan for investing in Baltimore’s future.  

Investing in a strong foundation is critical to sustaining and growing Baltimore.  Therefore, the capital improvement program focuses on investing in the City’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, pipes, and municipal buildings. 

In addition to investing in our infrastructure, the capital budget provides an opportunity for much-needed economic and community development to support existing neighborhoods and attract 10,000 new families. 

Through the capital budget, we are able to improve the quality of life for Baltimore residents in a variety of ways, from modernizing and right-sizing public facilities, such as schools and community centers, to demolishing blighted properties.

I hope you enjoy, and maybe even learn something from, this edition of the Compass.  Please let us know if there's a planning topic that you'd like to hear more about in the future.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director


CIP Project Spotlight

The CIP is a very important role of the Planning Department, and the projects have the potential to transform communities.  So each month The Compass highlights a project from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  This month’s featured project is the new Key Highway and Light Street Roundabout.

Rendering of the Proposed Light Street Roundabout

A new roundabout at Key Highway and Light Street will improve traffic safety and pedestrian access at a major intersection while creating an attractive and notable gateway for Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor.  The impetus for the project was community concerns about traffic safety, pedestrian access and deteriorating roadway conditions, as well as a desire for a more attractive gateway into the community.

Planning for the project began in 2007 with the presentation of four alternatives.  There was solid community support for the roundabout option. The Department of Transportation then assessed traffic and safety issues for the roundabout option and determined it was a viable and preferred alternative.

Due to funding constraints, work did not resume on the project until 2010.   The design and engineering will be completed this summer, and construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2013.

Total Construction Cost: $7 million.

Baltimore City CIP: General Funds (Highway User Revenue), $3.8 million.

The remaining $3.2 million comes from Federal Highway Transportation Funds.

Northwood Baseball Before

Northwood Baseball Fields Before and After capital Renovations

Image of Northwood Baseball Fields after renovation



In 2007, the State legislature passed the Maryland Education Trust Fund – Video Lottery Terminals legislation (2007 SB 3), which provides slots revenue funding to the City of Baltimore for a period of 15 years beginning in Fiscal Year 2012 and ending in Fiscal Year 2027 to support community and economic development in the Pimlico area.

In 2012, the legislation was amended to extend the Pimlico area slots revenue funding from 15 years to 20 years. Of the funds that are earmarked for the Pimlico area, at least 75% are allocated for the Park Heights Master Plan area and up to 25% are allocated for census block groups within 1 mile of the track, excluding the Park Heights Master Plan area.

For more information about this new source of funds and how it is being put to work in the Pimlico area, check out Pimlico Community Development Authority’s inaugural newsletter.

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) 101:

The CIP Process

The Capital Improvement Program or CIP is a budgetary plan that guides the City’s investment in necessary physical improvements.  The City Charter requires the Planning Commission to prepare a six-year recommended CIP each year.  The first year of the six year program is the basis for the capital component of the Ordinance of Estimates, adopted by City Council, to fund projects in the current budget year. Typical capital improvement projects include new or major renovations to City facilities, such as buildings, roads, parks, sewers, etc. 

Image of Benton Building

The Benton Building at 417 E. Fayette St, home of the Planning Department, is being proposed for a facelift, insulation and  waterproofing in the FY 2014-19 CIP.

The Department of Planning is currently working through the FY 2014-19 CIP process, and the next step will be Planning Commission Review at public hearings on February 14th and 28th at 1:30 pm in the Planning Department, 417 E. Fayette Street, 8th floorThe public is welcomed to attend. 


The FY 2014-19 CIP Timeline:

September 2012:  Planning provided agencies with targets for each fund source and instructions for submitting CIP requests for FY 14-19

November 30, 2012 Agency FY 14-19 CIP requests were due to Planning Department

January 10 and 17, 2013:  Select agencies presented FY 14-19 CIP priorities to Planning Commission

February 14, 2013:  Planning staff will present its FY 14-19 CIP recommendations to Planning Commission

February 28, 2013:     Planning Commission votes on recommended FY 14-19 CIP

March 2013:  Board of Finance review of recommended FY 14-19 CIP

April 2013Board of Estimates approval of recommended FY 14-19 CIP

June 2013:  City Council adoption of Capital Budget for FY 2014

July 1, 2013:  Fiscal Year 2014 begins


CIP at Work: At right is an image of federally mandated sewer upgrades in progress.

Image of Sewer Pipe installation in progress

CIP Evaluation Criteria

When Planning Department staff and the Planning Commission review CIP requests from City Agencies, they are looking for requests that are specific, clearly capital in nature, and compelling.  Compelling requests must also meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Necessary to protect public health and safety.
  • City funding will leverage other fund sources.
  • Capital investment will result in operating savings.
  • Fulfills a state or federal mandate.
  • Necessary to implement a priority housing or economic development project (ex. supports the Red Line).
  • Promotes private-public partnerships.
  • Implements the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan, current & future area master plans and/or agency/institution’s master plan
  • Implements the City’s Sustainability Plan

Image of Sarah's Hope Shelter

CIP at Work:  The 2014 CIP proposes design work for renovations and energy efficiency upgrades at Sarah’s Hope Shelter for Women and Children.

Sources of Funding:

General Obligation Bonds (GO Bonds) – With voter approval, the City borrows money for specific improvements by selling General Obligation Bonds. General Obligation bonds are debt secured by the full faith and credit of the City. General Obligation bonds are presented to voters for approval every two years. Currently, the CIP includes $50 million in G.O. Bonds each year.

General Funds – Revenue received from various payments to the City, such as property taxes and sale of property. General Funds are mostly used for the operating budget, but Finance allocates a certain amount for pay-go capital each year. The amount of General Funds varies from year to year; currently, the target for FY14 is $4.7 million.

General Funds Highway User Revenue (HUR) Eligible – Formerly known as Motor Vehicle Revenue (MVR). These funds are State Highway User Revenues allocated by formula. These state funds are restricted to eligible uses, such as transportation projects. The amount of General Funds HUR Eligible varies from year to year; currently the target for FY 14 is $8 million.

County Transportation Bonds – Bonds issued by the Maryland Department of Transportation to be repaid with future General Fund Highway User Revenue. The CIP includes $33 million in County Transportation Bonds for FY 14 and $15 million for FY 15. There are currently no County Transportation Bonds programmed for FY 16 through FY 19.

State Funds – Includes Open Space funds, Waterway Improvement Funds and Economic Development Loans.

Federal Funds – Loans and grants from the Federal Government including CDBG, highway funding and enhancement grants.

Water and Wastewater Revenue Bonds – Bonds issued by DPW to be repaid with future water and wastewater revenue (water bills).

Utility Funds –Funds from current operating revenues such as water bills and conduit fees.

Other – County Grants, private monies, critical area offset funds, etc.

Uses of Funding:

The following is a sampling of the projects that were approved for funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 CIP:

  • Mount Vernon Place Conservancy - Restoration Project
  • Critical Area Buffer Offset Program
  • Historic Public Monuments
  • Convention Center-Eastside Renovations
  • New Southwest Area Elementary School (Uplands)
  • Elm Ave, Mullen, B&O, and Federal Hill Playlot Renovations
  • Edmondson Ave Bridge Reconstruction
  • Boston Street Reconstruction - Phase I & Phase II
  • Baltimore Harbor Debris Collectors

Image of Morell Park after Renovations

Above: Morrell Park Ball Field Renovations

  • Sewer System Rehabilitation Program - Dundalk Sewershed
  • Wastewater Facilities Security Improvements
  • Urgent Needs Water Engineering Services
  • Park Heights Redevelopment
  • Urban Agriculture and Community Garden Infrastructure

For additional information, including CIP reports and maps from previous years, visit our website.