City plan casts doubt on "sky is falling" rhetoric 

By Bill Weitkemper
COLUMBIA, Mo 12/29/13 (Op Ed) --  City manager Mike Matthes' recent assertion that Columbia's central city infrastructure is 100 percent utilized is not supported by the City's 2014 Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

The CIP is a long-range plan that reflects the community's values and City Council's policy goals.  Updated annually, it provides detailed information on the cost, timing and funding of current and future infrastructure needs.

As part of preparing the CIP, each utility -- water, electricity, sewer, stormwater -- is evaluated for adequacy.  

Replacement requirements are assessed in four timeframes:  Current; 1-2 years; 3-5 years; and 6-10 years.   The assessment includes estimated project costs, existing funding, additional funding needed, anticipated design and construction dates.  

The 2014 CIP makes no mention that Columbia's central city infrastructure is 100 percent utilized.  In 10 years, it lists only 10 central city infrastructure projects projects that will need funding.   Here's a breakdown by timeframe: 


No unfunded projects. 

1-2 year projects

Replacement of a box culvert on Garth Avenue at Oak Towers:  $400,000 

Stormwater master planning:  $400,000 

Total cost of 1-2 year projects:  $800,000

3-5 year projects

Replace 4,600 feet of water main:  $959,500. 

Replace the storm water system from College/Elm to Hitt/Elm:  $1,500,000

Storm water repairs at Sexton/McBaine:  $265,000. 

Inspect and assess Flat Branch storm water system:  $400,000 

Total cost of 3-5 year projects:  $3,124,500

6-10 year projects

Place electric lines on Business Loop 70 underground: $3,950,000

Replace water mains at six locations:   $1,275,000

Construct 40,000 feet of relief sewers in the Flat Branch Watershed:  $6,750,000 

Storm water improvements at eight locations:  $4,133,000

Total cost of 6-10 year projects:   $16,108,000

All projects, all years, by type

Electric:  $3,950,000

Water:  $2,234,500

Sewer:  $6,750,000

Stormwater:  $7,098,000 

"I could tell you, ballpark, we've got $100 million of infrastructure we're going to need to add to, fix or replace that's nowhere in the budget," Mr. Matthes told the Columbia Daily Tribune earlier this month. 

But the total cost of all unfunded central city infrastructure projects during the next 10 years is one-fifth that amount, an estimated $20,032,500.  

Bill Weitkemper retired from the City of Columbia as a public works superintendent in charge of the city's sewer systems.   A city employee for nearly 38 years, Weitkemper received the first-ever Ed Robb Award for Public Service.