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With so much infrastructure money coming to Fresno, the city creates a whole new department

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council unanimously approved a new Capital Projects Department to facilitate infrastructure projects.

FRESNO, Calif. – A flush of state and federal funding for infrastructure projects in Fresno has led to the creation of a brand new city department to help handle it all.

The new department will be tasked with delivering hundreds of millions of dollars to different city projects.

“With all of the additional revenues coming into the city. We need to do something different,” said City Manager Georgeanne White.

White announced the new Capital Projects Department at Thursday’s city council meeting. She says the department will tackle projects that are linked to major amounts of one-time funding.

“Whether those be the related to the $250 million for downtown infrastructure, [or] the $80 million for Blackstone and McKinley grade separation,” she said.

The department will also deliver a backlog of water and sewer projects for the public utilities department, and projects for the annual Measure P revenue.

This fiscal year, Measure P has made $74 million dollars available for maintaining neighborhood parks, beautification programs and senior and youth recreation programs.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi applauded the addition of the new department, which was unanimously approved by the council.

“I think this is one of the most significant votes we're going to take this entire year,” he said.

Karbassi said the new department reflects the city’s growth.

“We're no longer just a small farm town. Ag is a part of our soul but we're a growing metropolis. We have to build out and this is gonna make it possible for us to do that,” Karbassi said.

Part of the funding to create the department would come from the $250 million state funds for the downtown infrastructure improvements.

Assistant City Manager TJ Miller said the city would start by appropriating $50 million for the downtown project, as well as re-classify $4.4 million from the public works department and $1.8 million from the public utilities department to get started.

Miller said the department would fast-track stalled projects about which city council members have raised concerns.

“Instead of trying to make things work within our structure, we went out of the box, went out of the creative mindset, stayed within all of the confines of our governments, but we were able to build a structure that I think will deliver projects to your satisfaction,” Miller said.

The city will add 46 new positions and transfer nearly 100 more within city departments. City Manager Georgeanne White said there are enough projects to keep the department working full-time for the next five to six years.

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with experience in radio, television and digital production. She is a 2022 National Edward R. Murrow Award winner. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.