Winter Conference Session – Mastering the Mystery of Infrastructure Budgeting

Budgeting to maintain a county’s infrastructure can often be a complicated process.  You must understand your infrastructure needs and maintenance schedule, establish project priorities, and develop sustainable funding mechanisms. To gain a better understanding of this process, local officials attended a MACo Winter Conference session titled “Mastering the Mystery of Infrastructure Budgeting” moderated by Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard, chair of the Transportation Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. ,

Rob Slocum, Director of the Division of Engineering and Construction Management with Washington County, spoke first offering tips for creating an infrastructure inventory. He discussed specific approaches and tools to keep track of your inventory and important lessons learned for keeping it current.

Andrew Kleine, Budget Chief for Baltimore City, spoke next discussing how to make infrastructure a priority, deciding what to fund, and marrying your capital and operating budgets. He suggested thinking about infrastructure in reserve planning and using outcome budgeting to set priorities. To successfully marry capital and operating budgets, Mr. Kleine stated that you need to understand the impact of capital projects on the operating budget and present both budgets together.

The last speaker, Nicole Westermann, Senior Advisor with the Public Financial Management, spoke about developing a sound financial plan to budget for capital projects offering common challenges, best practices, and examples. She spoke of the need to maintain infrastructure to avoid greater costs associated with delayed maintenance. Ms. Westermann also emphasized the importance of long-range planning to better understand spikes and valleys in infrastructure needs.