PHOTO: An image from a March 3 presentation to City Council shows the proposed new design for the duck pond in Riverside Park.
Fiscal year 2021 kicked off for the City of Victoria on Oct. 1, but whether you notice any changes may depend on where you look.
The City’s assistant director of Finance Wesley Janecek said City departments that have budgeted for new expenses often spend the beginning of the fiscal year making purchases so that they can start providing improved service as soon as possible. Meanwhile, progress on capital improvement projects is proceeding more quietly, since long-term projects are likely to spend most or all of this fiscal year in the planning phase as City engineers determine how to make the budget’s vision and 2035 Comprehensive Plan for Victoria a reality.
One anticipated capital improvement project of fiscal year 2021 is the Riverside duck pond. The City Council at its Oct. 20 meeting authorized Parks & Recreation to apply for a grant that would cover half the cost of restoring the beloved community fixture. Regardless of whether the City receives the grant, construction is expected to begin in summer or early fall of 2021.
The inclusion of the duck pond under the heading of capital improvement projects is part of an overall strategy to increase engagement with residents where large-scale projects are concerned. The phrase “capital improvement projects” refers to projects that create or improve resources that will be used over a long period of time. This definition goes beyond traditional capital expenses like streets and utilities to include such projects as a new aquifer storage and recovery well; replacement of a screen at the wastewater treatment plant; and, of course, the duck pond. The City’s capital improvement projects are required to align with the City’s vision as outlined in the community-driven 2035 Comprehensive Plan, available to view at www.victoriatx.gov/comp2035.
The City is working to revamp the approval process for capital improvement projects to provide more opportunities for public input. Employing a broad definition will increase the scope of projects for which the City solicits feedback, and it will also provide better data about how much the City spends on capital expenses.
To help residents understand the budget, the City created a centralized webpage where residents can read the full fiscal year 2021 budget along with explanatory graphics, previous years’ budgets and other supplementary materials. To learn more, visit www.victoriatx.gov/budget.
Sam Hankins is the communications specialist for the City of Victoria.
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