With the 2011 legislative changes, Florida's local governments are no longer required to submit the annual update of the Five-Year Capital Improvements Schedule to the Department for review. However, the Capital Improvements Element remains a required critical component of the local government's comprehensive plan. The schedule must be reviewed annually by the local government to reflect the timing, location and funding of capital projects to achieve and maintain adopted level of service standards for public facilities that are necessary to implement the comprehensive plan. The update to the schedule may be accomplished by ordinance and will not be considered an amendment to the comprehensive plan. The following provides guidance for local governments as they review and update the Capital Improvements Element.

Summary of 2011 Legislative Changes

The 2011 legislative session adopted several major revisions to Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, regarding the Capital Improvements Element:

  • The revisions to Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, removed the requirement that the annual update to the Five-Year Schedule of Capital Improvements (schedule) be adopted and transmitted as a comprehensive plan amendment to the state land planning agency (now the Department of Economic Opportunity) for review by December 1 of every year;
  • The requirement for the adoption of the Capital Improvements Element as one component of the local comprehensive plan remains unchanged [163.3177(3)(a), Florida Statutes]. Pursuant to Section 163.3177(3)(b), Florida Statutes, local governments are still required to undertake an annual review of the Capital Improvements Element to update the Five-Year Capital Improvement Schedule;
  • The annual update to the schedule may now be accomplished by ordinance and not as an amendment to the comprehensive plan. [163.3177(3)(b), Florida Statutes]. The update to the Capital Improvements Element policy referencing the facility work plan adopted by the local school board may also be adopted by reference and is not subject to state review. However, note that other amendments to the Capital Improvements Element outside of the 5-year schedule (such as policy changes, level of service standard changes, etc.,) are still subject to the regular expedited amendment review processes;
  • The requirement that the schedule demonstrate financial feasibility has been removed. However, the necessary capital projects must still be listed in the schedule, projected revenue resources identified, and the project listed as “funded” or “unfunded” and assigned with a level of priority for funding. [163.3177(3)(a)4., Florida Statutes].
  • Section 163.3164(7), Florida Statutes, “definitions” – establishes the definition of "capital improvement”. Note that the definition states that capital improvements are to be physical assets, excluding items like operation and maintenance services and studies. There is no requirement to include these types of non-physical asset expenditures in the Schedule of Capital Improvements (however, there is no prohibition either);
  • Section 163.3177(3)(a), Florida Statutes, explains the purpose and the requirements of the Capital Improvements Element: “to consider the need for and location of public facilities…to encourage the efficient use of such facilities.” These provisions require that the capital improvement projects, which are necessary to ensure that adopted level of service standards for public facilities will be achieved and maintained for the five-year period, will be adopted into the Schedule of Capital Improvements;
  • Section 163.3180, Florida Statutes, Concurrency, establishes that sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage and potable water are the only public facilities subject to statewide concurrency requirements. Based upon the recent statutory changes, application of concurrency requirements are now optional for parks and recreation, public schools and transportation. For more information, see Transportation Planning.

Preparation of the Five-Year Capital Improvements Schedule

While the purpose of the Capital Improvements Element is to consider the need for and the location and the efficient use of public facilities, the Capital Improvements Schedule functions as the vehicle for the element’s achievement. The Capital Improvements Schedule identifies the local government’s capital projects necessary for implementation of the comprehensive plan and to ensure that the adopted level of service standards for public facilities are achieved and maintained for the five-year planning period. The following guidance is intended to help the reader understand the general steps for preparation of the Capital Improvements Schedule:

  1. Level of Service Analysis: To determine the availability of public facilities, prepare an analysis for each facility to establish the current capacity for that facility. Based upon the adopted level of service standards, determine how much of that capacity is now in use and how much excess capacity remains or how deficient the facility is;
  2. Project the Demand: Based upon the local government’s population projection and the adopted Level of Service standards, estimate the demand for each facility for each year for the next five-year planning period;
  3. Determine Deficiencies: Based upon demand projections, determine deficient or surplus capacity for each public facility for the five-year planning period;
  4. Identify Needed Capital Improvements: Identify the capital improvements needed by year to correct projected deficiencies. Ideally, these improvements were anticipated and included in the long term list of capital improvements. Those projects should be moved from the long term list to the 5-year schedule when the analysis demonstrates they are needed. Also, it is important to identify needed capital improvement projects for the replacement of obsolete or antiquated facilities and the timing for the required improvements;
  5. Estimate Cost of Improvement Projects: Identify the cost of each of the needed five-year capital improvement projects;
  6. Identify Funding Source: Based upon projected revenue sources, determine the appropriate funding source(s) for each project that will be needed. Funding should be identified as public (federal, state and local funding) or private. Private projects may include those projects for which the local government has no fiscal responsibility. The remaining requirement will be for each project to be identified as “funded” or “unfunded” and assigned a level of priority for funding. To assist with the prioritization of funding, a local government may want to adopt criteria by which prioritization should be considered. Emphasis could be put on public safety, job creation, assistance with redevelopment or on the availability of matching contributions to maximize the investment;
  7. Capital Improvements Adoption: Upon completion of the above six steps, the local government should finalize the updates to the schedule and initiate the procedures for its adoption.

Long Term Capital Improvements

In addition to the requirement for short term planning for infrastructure, local governments should also plan for their major long term needs. The local government should review its population projections for the long term planning horizon and assess the projected need for major additional infrastructure improvements, such as water and wastewater treatment plants, new well fields, new roads, additional lanes, etc. Also, any major components of the infrastructure that will become obsolete during the long term planning period should also be identified. The identified infrastructure improvements should be listed separately in the Capital Improvements Element as long term projects or included in the relevant plan element. There is no need to identify the specific year in which the improvement is needed. That requirement is only for the five year schedule discussed above. The long term schedule should consider the 10-year water supply plan as well as the plans of the metropolitan planning organization, transportation authority, Florida Transportation Plan, and Department of Transportation’s adopted work program. The Transportation improvements should be reflected on the Future Transportation Map. It would assist local governments in budgeting for the longer term improvements if the magnitude of the cost of the improvement was also identified. As local governments are updating their five year capital improvement schedule, they may then refer back to this long term list, determine how far off any improvements will be needed outside of the five year schedule, and begin planning / budgeting for those improvements.

Addition Information

For further information and additional assistance concerning a particular local government, contact the planner in the Bureau of Community Planning assigned for that area. See Community Planning Review Team Assignments.

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