The purpose of capital facilities planning is to:
- Provide adequate public facilities to serve existing and new development
- Reduce the cost of serving new development with public facilities
- Ensure that these facilities will be in place when development occurs.
The capital facilities plan is a six or more year plan of capital projects with estimated costs and proposed methods of financing that is updated annually.
The Washington State Growth Management Act requires jurisdictions fully planning under the GMA to include a capital facilities plan element in their comprehensive plans (RCW 36.70A.070(3)). The capital facilities element is required before a jurisdiction can impose GMA impact fees. Other jurisdictions are required to have a capital facilities plan before imposing certain taxes, such as the real estate excise tax and to qualify for state funding for capital facilities.
The capital facilities plan implements the land use element of the comprehensive plan, and these two elements, including the financing plan within the capital facilities element, must be coordinated and consistent. The GMA also requires a separate transportation element.
The Washington State Department of Commerce, Growth Management Services Capital Facilities Planning page is an excellent starting point for information on capital facilities planning. It includes a capital facilities planning tool available for downloading to help jurisdictions develop capital facilities plans.
Statutes and Administrative Regulations
Growth Management Act
- RCW 36.70A.070(3) – Capital facilities is one of the mandatory elements of comprehensive plan, Growth Management Act (also see (6)(B) and (C) regarding level of service and transportation)
- RCW 36.70A.020 – Planning goals (1) and (12)
- RCW 36.70A.030(12) – Public facilities definition
- WAC 365-196-415 – Capital facilities element
Other state statutes
- RCW 58.17.110(2) – Consideration of public facilities for a subdivision and conditions for approval
- RCW 82.02.050(4) – Impact fees. Requires capital facilities plan prior to imposition of GMA impact fees to finance system improvements related to the new development
- RCW 82.46.035(5)(b) – “Capital project” definition, for real estate excise tax
General Resources on Capital Facility Planning
The following provide background and general information regarding capital facility planning.
- Capital Facilities Planning, Washington State Department of Commerce, Growth Management Services – Includes capital facilities planning tool
- Capital Facilities Planning Guidebook - Washington State Department of Commerce, Growth Management Services, 10/2014
- Capital Facilities Planning: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Presentations at April 2014 PAW Conference by Joyce Phillips, Lynn Kohn, and Mike Bailey
- Capital Improvement Plans and Budgets, by Vicki Elmer, University of California at Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning - Explains what planners need to know about capital budgeting and finance
- Infrastructure Planning Framework, in Funding for Local Government Infrastructure, Puget Sound Regional Council, 09/2009
- Capital Planning Policies, GFOA, 09/2013 - Recommends capital planning policies that address local government services, structure, and the external environment
- Multi-Year Capital Planning, GFOA Best Practice, 2006 - Summary of basic elements of multi-year capital planning
Capital Budget Policies
The following are general capital budget and capital improvement program policies found in budget documents.
Capital Facilities Plans
Some of these capital facilities elements and plans have been recommended as good examples in the past by Growth Management Services at the Washington State Department of Commerce. These are noted with *.
The following address infrastructure funding and resources in Washington State and may be useful in developing capital facilities plans.