Capital Improvement Program

About the Capital Improvement Program

To guide the City in making necessary physical improvements, the City Charter requires the Planning Commission to annually recommend a six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Board of Estimates. Each year, the Planning Department works with the various City agencies to prepare and present a new six-year program. The first year of the six-year program is the budget year and becomes the basis for the capital component of the Ordinance of Estimates (budget), adopted by City Council. City Council votes to approve the Ordinance of Estimates. New in FY24, City Council can make changes to the Ordinance of Estimates, removing items funded with general funds and redirecting the funds to other priorities. In prior years, Council was only able to remove items from the budget. 

The capital budget is the budget for capital improvements in the City. A capital improvement is a long-term investment, typically in physical infrastructure, such as roads, monuments, public buildings, parks, or art. Capital improvements are defined by the Board of Estimates as "… any physical betterment or improvement and any preliminary studies and surveys relative thereto, including, but not limited to, any property of a permanent nature, and equipment needed in connection with such improvement when first erected or acquired.”

The City's capital and operating budget totals from fiscal year 2007 to 2021. The total budget has increased over the years. Capital is a small percentage of the total budget.

Over the past ten years, the capital budget has represented between 15 and 30 percent of the total budget for the year. The operating budget represents the remaining 70 to 85 percent of the budget. The operating budget generally supports the day-to-day services and activities that keep Baltimore running, including salaries, funding for programs, ongoing maintenance costs at parks and recreation centers, and the like.

Click here to learn about the process through which the City plans its future capital improvements, go straight to the Current Program – Get Involved page to see the most recent six-year Capital Improvement Program projects, or download this overview presentation to learn more.