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 budget is a significant part of the 2019-2020 Budget. It represents costs associated with capital projects in the first year of the 2020-2024 Capital Improvements 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 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.

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 a process created for the purpose of developing a five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The five-year capital improvement process is for projects occurring in calendar years 2020-2024. 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.

Since the financing for the first two (2) years of projects was issued through a bond in early 2017, the emphasis in the capital improvement process was on the first three years of the Capital Improvement Plan. The projects for the remaining three years of the Plan will become part of the City’s long-term financial plan and five-year capital improvement plan, and if the City deems appropriate will not have debt issued for them until future years. These projects are still an important part of the capital improvements Plan as they help shape the debt issues and debt service levy into the future. CIP Summary and Debt Capacity provided by Independent Public Advisors.

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

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.


Notable observations about the 2019-2024 CIP include:

  • The 2019-2024 CIP responds to the City’s strategic goal session from December 11, 2017.
  • Being strong fiscal stewards by offering a plan that stabilizes the City’s debt service levy to near $3.00/$1000 valuation for non-referendum projects, which will finance approximately $4 million in infrastructure improvements for the next ten (10) years.
  • With fewer state and federal resources, the City will continue to look for additional partnerships with neighboring cities for joint projects that are mutually beneficial.
  • Emphasis on maintaining the City’s infrastructure for streets, trail, storm water management and underground utilities.
  • 2 major Complete Street Reconstruction Projects, including streets, water, sanitary, storm, and sidewalks;
  • Implementation of the Streets Maintenance Program;
  • 1 Trail Connection Project;
  • Up to 25 Storm Water intakes replaced;
  • Annual Walnut Creek bank stabilization projects;
  • University Avenue Redesign including adaptive traffic lights, signage, a multi-use trail, and other amenities;
  • Accomplishing 3 more major street reconstruction projects from the comprehensive Master Street Plan;
  • Accomplishing 3 more of Des Moines Water Works projects list for Windsor Heights;
  • Approximately 40 blocks of Crack and Seat/Overlay throughout the community; and
  • 50 blocks of sliplining sanitary sewers

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.

Timeline for the 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan

August 21, 2018

Staff, City Engineer and Public Works begins CIP review and update.

September 12, 2018

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

September 18 and November 19, 2018

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 the financial plan and debt service requirements for proposed 2020-2024 CIP.

December 17, 2018

Council set the Public Hearing on the CIP for January 7, 2019.

January 7, 2019

Following a public hearing, City Council approves the 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan.

March 4, 2019

Following the public hearing, City Council considers FY 2019/20 Budget for adoption, including Debt Service Fund appropriation and 2019 capital project expenditures.

2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan

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.