A. Introduction

Purpose of the Capital Facilities Plan

The Capital Facilities Element is a six-year plan for fully funded capital improvements that supports the City’s current and future population and economy. The principal criteria for identifying needed capital improvements are level of service standards (LOS). The Capital Facilities Element contains level of service standards for each public facility, and requires that new development be served by adequate facilities. The element also contains broad goals and specific policies that guide implementation of adequate public facilities.

The purpose of the Capital Facilities Element is three-fold:

(1)    To establish sound fiscal policies to guide Kirkland in planning for public facilities;

(2)    Identify facilities needed to support growth and development consistent with the policies of the Comprehensive Plan; and

(3)    Establish adopted standards for levels of service.

What is a capital facility or capital improvement project?

Capital improvements include: the construction of new facilities; the expansion, large-scale renovation, or replacement of existing facilities; and the acquisition of land or the purchase of major pieces of equipment, including major replacements funded by the equipment rental fund or those that are associated with newly acquired facilities.

A capital improvement must meet all of the following criteria:

♦    It is an expenditure that can be classified as a fixed asset.

♦    It has an estimated cost of $50,000 or more (with the exception of land).

♦    It has a useful life span of 10 years or more (with the exception of certain equipment which may have a short life span).

Fire Station 22

Why plan for capital facilities?

Growth Management

Capital facilities plans are required in the Comprehensive Plan in order to:

♦    Provide capital facilities for land development that is envisioned or authorized by the Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan.

♦    Maintain the quality of life for the community by establishing and maintaining level of service standards for capital facilities.

♦    Coordinate and provide consistency among the many plans for capital improvements, including other elements of the Comprehensive Plan, master plans and other studies of the local government, plans for capital facilities of State and/or regional significance, plans of other adjacent local governments, and plans of special districts.

♦    Ensure the timely provision of adequate facilities as required in the GMA.

♦    Document all capital projects and their financing.

The Capital Facilities Element is the element that guides the City in the construction of its physical improvements. By establishing levels of service as the basis for providing capital facilities and for achieving concurrency, the Element determines the quality of improvements in the community. The requirement to fully finance the Capital Facilities Plan (or revise the Land Use Plan) provides the basis for financing the vision of the Plan.

Good Management

Planning for major capital facilities and their costs enables the City to:

(a)    Identify the need for facilities and funding sources to pay for facilities;

(b)    Estimate eventual operation and maintenance costs of new capital facilities that impact budgets;

(c)    Take advantage of sources of revenue; and

(d)    Improve ratings on bond issues when the City borrows money for capital facilities that reduces interest rates and the cost of borrowing money.

Capital Facilities Element vs. Capital Improvement Program

The Capital Facilities Element contains goals and policies to guide construction of capital improvements to provide new capacity to accommodate growth and ensure that the City’s existing infrastructure is maintained. The Capital Facilities Element also contains the Capital Facilities Plan (CFP) that consists of capital projects needed to maintain the adopted level of service standards. The goals and policies in the Capital Facilities Element establish the need for the projects in the Capital Facilities Plan (CFP).

The City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) addresses construction and acquisition of major capital facilities. Similar to the CFP, the CIP includes projects that provide new capacity to maintain level of service standards. The CIP also includes maintenance, repair, and replacement projects that do not add new capacity but preserve existing infrastructure. The CIP contains both funded and unfunded projects. The Capital Facilities Element, on the other hand, must be balanced – all projects must have an identified funding source.

Capital Facilities Element vs. Neighborhood Plans

Many of the neighborhood plans identify desired pedestrian, bicycle and park improvements that reflect the interests of residents in those neighborhoods. These improvements are a result of the public process in developing the plans. Some of these desired improvements may be completed with land use development while others may be included in projects funded through grants. Some projects may lack funding sources in the foreseeable future. As projects are prioritized for the CFP and CIP, consideration should be given to funding these desired improvements where appropriate and feasible.

Explanation of Levels of Service

Levels of service (LOS) are usually quantifiable measures of the number, size and extent of public facilities that are provided to the community. Levels of service may also measure the quality of some public facilities. The measurement of level of service varies by the type of facility and may be changed if the City chooses to take a different approach to the way that LOS is measured. Examples of measurements are response time for fire and emergency service, and gallons per day to each customer for water and sewer.

Setting the Standards for Levels of Service

The GMA requires the Capital Facilities Plan to be based on standards for service levels that are measurable and financially feasible. Level of service standards are measures of the quality of life of the community. The standards should be based on the community’s vision of its future and its values.

Community values and desires change and evolve and funding levels fluctuate; therefore, adjustments to level of service standards will be required over time. The challenge is to balance the need for reliability on timely completion of improvements with being responsive to changing conditions. In addition to the level of service standards the Vision Statement, Guiding Principles and other goals and policies in the Plan should also be considered when making decisions on capital improvement projects and facilities.

What is concurrency?

The concurrency requirement in the Growth Management Act mandates that capital facilities be coordinated with new development or redevelopment. Kirkland’s concurrency ordinance fulfills this requirement. The City has determined that roads, water and sewer facilities must be available concurrent with new development or redevelopment. This means that adequate capital facilities must be finished and in place before, at the time, or within a reasonable time period following the impacts of development. For water and sewer, adequate capital facilities are those facilities which have the capacity to serve the development without decreasing the adopted levels of service for the community below accepted standards. For roads, adequate capital facilities is completion of a portion of the transportation network for each mode at a given time.

For water and sewer, concurrency is determined by comparing the available capacity of water and sewer facilities to the capacity to be used by new development. Capacity is determined by the City’s adopted LOS standards. If the available capacity is equal to or greater than the capacity to be used by new development, then concurrency is met. If the available capacity is less than the capacity to be used by new development, then concurrency is not met. For roads, concurrency measures the balance between new growth and construction of the transportation network for each mode over the course of a 20-year period. Time is the basis for evaluating the level of completion. Policy CF-6.2 below addresses what options are available to the developer and/or by the City if concurrency is not met.

Meeting concurrency requires a balancing of public and private expenditures. Private costs are generally limited to the services directly related to a particular development. The City is responsible for maintaining adequate system capacity that will meet adopted LOS standards.

Relationship to Other Elements

The Capital Facilities Plan ensures that the public facilities needed to support many of the goals and policies in the other elements are programmed for construction. Level of service standards for capital facilities are derived from the growth projections contained within the Land Use Element. The Land Use Element also calls for phasing increases in residential and commercial densities to correspond with the availability of public facilities necessary to support new growth. The Capital Facilities Element also ensures that the residential development identified in the Housing Element is supported by adequate improvements.

The Capital Facilities Element is also supported by the Transportation, Environment, Utilities, Public Services and Parks, Recreation and Open Space Elements. Each of these supporting elements provides the policy direction for the level of service standards, project lists and funding plan to pay for and construct the physical improvements identified in this chapter.