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May 1, 2014

Lawrence capital budget will be first in a decade

(Continued)

Public Works Director John Isensee said at one of the capital budget meetings that he needs $10 million to repair the 40 or so buildings that house city operations and also said he would like to reconfigure playing fields to reflect soccer’s growing popularity.

“There are too many diamonds and not enough rectangles in the city,” Ianello said. He said the city has 32 baseball diamonds but just four fields for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

Ianello has been culling the list developed by the capital projects committee and will submit his recommendations to Rivera, who could cull them again before submitting the document to the City Council later this month.

In allowing Lantigua to borrow up to $35 million to pay off the operating budget deficits that accumulated under Sullivan, the state requires the city to set aside 1.5 percent of its property tax collections for capital improvements. That amounts to about $800,000 annually, which Ianello said is spent almost as soon as its collected. The city has little or no capital reserves.

While annual operating budgets outline spending on salaries, services, supplies and other expenses with some precision and can’t be amended without the council’s approval, capital budgets are general guides that are often disregarded.

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