Town of Brewster, Massachusetts

Capital Plan Overview

Section IV - Capital Projects: Capital Plan Overview

Capital Planning

A capital improvement program provides a blueprint for planning a community's capital expenditures and is one of the most important responsibilities of local government officials. It coordinates community planning, financial capacity, and physical development. A CIP is composed of two parts—a capital program and a capital budget. The capital program is a community planning and fiscal management tool that spans multiple upcoming fiscal years. Brewster's capital improvement plan spans five years. The capital program identifies capital items, which are typically defined as tangible assets or projects that cost more than a certain threshold (e.g., $10,000) and that have a minimal useful life span (such as five years), provides a planning schedule, and offers financing options. The capital budget is the upcoming year's spending plan for capital items that will be presented to the legislative body for approval.

Developing a CIP that will ensure sound fiscal and capital planning requires effective leadership and the cooperation of municipal departments. For this reason, responsibility for overseeing the CIP process typically rest with a community's Chief Executive, the Select Board. The Town Administrator and Finance Team work with the Capital Planning Committee to objectively analyze capital proposals and make recommendations to the Select Board on the annual capital budget and the ongoing capital program.

A complete, properly developed CIP has the following benefits:

  1. Facilitates coordination between capital needs and operating budgets.
  2. Enhances the community's credit rating and control of its tax rate.
  3. Deters sudden changes in debt service requirements.
  4. Identifies the most economical means to finance capital projects.
  5. Increases opportunities for obtaining federal and state aid.
  6. Relates public facilities to public and private development plans.
  7. Focuses attention on community objectives and fiscal capacity.
  8. Keeps the public informed about future needs and projects.
  9. Reduces costs by identifying and consolidating duplicative expenditures across municipal departments.

10. Encourages careful project planning and design to avoid costly mistakes and to help a community reach desired goals.