WHAT’S A C – I – P ?

If you don’t already know, CIP might conjure thoughts about the C – I – A and secret documents blacked out. On the other hand, it may remind you of Bart’s very first prank call to Moe in the third episode of The Simpsons. As it concerns the City of Billings, CIP stands for Capital Improvement Plan—none of which is redacted or contains prank names, thank goodness. Details in the staff memo tell us the CIP is a, “critical component of our city’s financial management and planning, serving as a blueprint for capital projects over the next five years.”

A CIP is a gameplan for all the major spending (anything over $25,000 with a useful life longer than one year) the City is expecting over the next five years. It details each individual capital project, such as rehabbing runway 10L/28R at the airport, how much it will cost, when it’s planned to be done, and where the money will come from. In this case, rehabbing runway 10L/28R will cost $15 million, is scheduled for FY 2029, and will be paid for with $13.5 million from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant and $1.5 million from user fees. (For more information on airport funding, check out the Council Bulletin we did on Aug.14.2023)

The CIP includes projects from six city departments, totaling over $500 million over the next five years. That’s not to say the City is allocating half a billion, but identifying future spending. Tonight, City Council will discuss the projects in the CIP, their prioritization, data needed for decision making, and consider how policy changes could affect particular projects. But they won’t approve the CIP until December, and CIP projects for FY 2025 will be budgeted/funded via next year’s budget adoption in June 2024.

Why should you care?

What’s more exciting than 185 pages of tables and government forms…? Maybe you want to know what’s planned in your neighborhood. If you live on Wicks Lane, you might be interested in the $2 million going toward the second phase of storm drain construction. Interested in our parks? There are 21 Parks & Rec projects listed in FY 2025, totaling almost $30 million. Granted, that assumes voters pass the Parks & Rec Bond, for which we’ll have final results around 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night. Do you live on the southwest outskirts of Billings? Funding for Fire Station 9 would certainly be of interest to you.

Thankfully, the City put together an interactive GIS map of the CIP, allowing users to see what is planned, without having to read almost 200 pages of bureaucratic paperwork. Click on the map below to access the City’s Capital Projects website and see how the City is planning to spend $588 million over the next five years.

You might also be interested in how the City is paying for projects. Are they using tax dollars? User fees? Debt? Maybe you don’t think the City should use your tax dollars to replace awnings on parking garages. Actually, it’s not. Like many projects in the CIP, parking garage awning replacement is funded by user fees rather than tax dollars. In fact, property taxes account for a pretty minor portion of the CIP funding pie. 

There’s a political adage that goes: “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your priorities are.” Like the budget, the CIP is a prioritization of spending. So, what do you think this CIP says about our capital improvement priorities? 


A MONTANA LEGACY: Mansfield’s Fidelity to Bipartisanship, Integrity, and Ethical Leadership

Join the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center and Buchanan Capital for a community conversation about bridging divides and strengthening our democratic institutions. Marc Johnson, Mansfield historian and author, and Marc Racicot, Chairman of the Mansfield Center Advisory Board and former Governor of Montana, will lead the conversation and will discuss the enduring legacy of Montana’s Mike Mansfield, and how we can work together to support the core values of our democracy in the Mansfield Way.

DATE:  Thursday, November 16

TIME:   Reception 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Program 6:30 -7:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Billings Depot


Thank you to our Business Advocacy Sponsors!