Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

What is a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)?

The Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) serves as an effective guide for the efficient and effective provision of public facilities, outlining timing and financing schedules of capital and infrastructure projects for a five-year planning period, and for the next fiscal year capital budget.

The CIP identifies capital needs, establishes priorities and identifies potential funding sources. Key sources of identifying capital requirements include the City of Windsor Heights Comprehensive Plan as well as professional studies of facilities, transportation, utilities, and stormwater needs.

The CIP neither appropriates funds nor authorizes projects. The City Council must act to initiate each project. Proceedings to initiate capital improvements are presented when sources of funding are available.

The capital plan is a significant part of the budget. It represents costs associated with capital projects in the first year of the plan.

Capital projects may include land acquisitions, the construction of new buildings, additions to or renovations of existing buildings, construction or reconstruction of street and utility infrastructure, and major equipment purchases. Because of the size and magnitude of these projects, bond funds are a major source of financing for projects including utility projects.

Staff performs a systematic evaluation of capital project requirements, identifies any project changes, incorporates recommended changes and submits the revised Plan to the City Council for consideration each year.Modification and adoption is part of the annual budget process.

During the preparation and review of the recommended Capital Improvements Plan, city management staff employed experience-based judgment to identify which projects can be accomplished within a given year, within the limit of the City’s control. As would be expected, project expenditure and revenue estimates for the earlier years are more precise than in the late years of the plan. Expenditures and project costs change through out each year. First is an engineer probable costs. After survey work has been completed the engineers will update their estimate to include with bid documents.Once the bid is completed, the final project costs are proposed before the City awards the project.

Numerous sources are drawn upon to develop the expenditures included within this document including plans and/or studies completed or currently in process.

Capital Improvement Plan projects scheduled for completion during each year for the next five-year period are summarized herein.


What is the process of building a CIP?

The annual capital improvement process is created for the purpose of developing a five-year or longer Capital Improvement Plan. The CIP process is intended to provide a format for departments and utilities to submit projects to the City Administrator and to the City Council while providing an objective means for reviewing and ranking capital projects.

As a part of the process, capital projects are evaluated based on if it meets legal mandates, removes or reduces hazards, advances a City Council goal, improves efficiency, maintains standard of service, supports economic development, improves service, facilitates new services, improves the quality of life or aesthetic values and offers a convenience.

These urgency-of-need criteria are used as general guidelines that point to, rather than determine priorities among capital project requests. In evaluating the urgency of need, affordability is given strong consideration.

Once the projects are evaluated using the above criteria, they will then be ordered based upon their fund source and project year.

The first year of the Capital Improvement Plan will be included as part of the budget submitted for Council approval each March. 

The capital improvement process includes a Master Plan prepared by the City Engineer. Each street was rated or scored by pavement surface done objectively through CTRE, scored by Des Moines Water Works as a priority, scored by the Public Works Director, Walkability Connectivity, utility needs, scored by the City Engineer and input from the Walkability Taskforce.

These factors will be combined with other factors such as relevance to City Council goals, method of financing and whether or not it is new or replacement work. Evaluation criteria will be applied to the relevant factors to provide each project with a score that will be used to rank and prioritize each project.

All documentation is then reviewed by the City Administrator and organized for presentation to the City Council.



The Capital Improvements Plan for 2017-2021 totals $13,196,202. Of this total:

  • 57% for infrastructure reinvestment and transportation projects
  • 19% for parks facilities
  • 17% for utility projects
  • 8% for safe routes to schools/sidewalks
  • Less than 1% is for public works facilities

Capital Budget requirements for 2017 total approximately $2,922,020. Capital spending authorizations by year/project/category for the upcoming year include:

  • $1,152,444 for utility projects
  • $717,521 for infrastructure reinvestment and transportation projects
  • $1,430,360 for safe routes to schools/sidewalks
  • $50,000 for public works facilities
  • $15,000 for trails/parks facilities

This Plan represents a concerted effort to ensure that needed capital projects and infrastructure are in place in a timely manner to accommodate continued growth and development in the community.

Plan Overview

The Capital Improvement Plan provides an organized timeline and objective grading criteria for the purpose of scheduling capital projects and planning long-term debt. The annual Plan calendar starts in August or September and culminates in late December or early January so that next year’s capital expenditures and debt issues are finalized and ready to be included in the City’s budget for the next fiscal year.

Plan Calendar

September 11, 2017

Equipment Replacement and Capital Improvement Project worksheets due. One-on-one meetings with City Administrator. Probable costs for City Engineer due.

September 25 and November 27, 2017

Council Budget Committee meets. City Administrator, Treasurer, Public Works Director and Financial Advisor reviews capital budget process overview, capital planning, project ranking/priority list for the calendar year, and review financial plan and debt service requirements for proposed 2018-2022 CIP.

November 13, 2017

City staff prepare TIF projections and CIP/ERP spreadsheets.

December 4, 2017

CIP work session.

December 18, 2017

Council set the Public Hearing on the CIP for January 15, 2018.

January 15, 2018

Following a public hearing, City Council approves the 2018-2022 Capital Improvements Plan.

March 5, 2018

Following public hearing, City Council considers FY 2019 Budget for adoption, including Debt Service Fund appropriation and 2018 capital project expenditures.

Who is involved in preparing a CIP?

  1. Staff reviews the Strategic Goals and Initiatives approved by the City Council.
  2. Staff collects data from Public Works, City Engineer, Des Moines Water Works, MidAmerican Energy, etc.
  3. The data is rated; which provides objective information that is fact-based, measurable and observable.
  4. The City Engineer provides probable costs for top priority projects.
  5. Staff meets with the City’s Financial Advisor to review the debt service levy and short and long-term financial position of the City.
  6. Staff presents a draft to the Council Public Works Committee for review and feedback.
  7. Staff presents a draft to the Council Trail Hub Committee for review and feedback.
  8. Staff presents a draft to the Council Budget Committee for review and feedback.
  9. The Council Budget Committee presents the final draft to the City Council for approval.
  10. The City Council approves the Budget, including the Capital Improvement.