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Friday, October 26, 2007

Candidate Question #4 Strategic Planning

Question #4 Strategic Planning

In recent years we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants resulting in a sizable stack of reports and critiques, while not resulting in any type of strategic plan. Propose a method to develop a strategic plan in more economical, more comprehensive, less fractured, and less consultant dependent way.

Simply put, operating without a strategic master plan in turbulent times commits our city to reactive rather than proactive leadership. Our team has a strategic plan developed with the collaboration of residents, business leaders, civic, religious and community groups over the last six months. This plan will be a start for our administration. It will be a working document that all departments refer to on a daily basis. The plan is flexible to meet the changing needs of our community. We will discuss the plan at each and every quarterly Town Meeting with a written report on the status of each goal and initiative.

We do not need consultants during these difficult times. We need a solid plan based on public input identifying the basics that we need to concentrate on in the next four years. It is time to get our own house in order.

There will be times when a technical consultant may be needed for specific tasks relating to an issue that requires an expertise in certain areas for a specific task. However, it is my sincere belief that a Blue Ribbon Task Force comprised of local and area individuals with a vested interest in our community could have produced the $100,000 Early Intervention Plan that the city commissioned three years ago.

We will take a bottoms-up approach to local government. Local government cannot be a spectator sport; we need residents that have a vested interest in our future helping to shape that future. They are waiting for their invitation into their City Hall.

I would answer this question but if I did I would have to charge you a consultant fee for the advice that I would provide you. Just kidding!

I believe that the new Comprehensive Plan is one of the very first things that are required of the new administration and council. Without a plan we do not know our direction, goals, or objectives as a city. But since the plan is for the city it should be created by the residents of the city. In the same way that we have neighborhood economic development committees we need to assemble regional committees of the city to develop a comprehensive plan. I believe that the new comprehensive plan needs to be developed within 6 months of next year. Citizen input to this plan is critical to develop a consensus on the future direction of the city and to gain citizen cooperation to implement the plan. The plan needs to establish goals and objectives and also develop mechanisms that allow the city government to measure the success of each goal or objective. Reports of the success of the Comprehensive Plan should be made each year by the mayor. The plan should also be updated each year (this should be a minor update) and have a major update every five years.

The first and foremost idea we need to look at is this: We need to know that before we pay one dime for a consultant, for any project, that we have the funds to follow through with whatever they recommend. If we don't have the funds, then there is no need to hire a consultant, and waste even more money on something that will not be followed-up on. The second idea is to have a citizen's advisory committee come up with ideas. Once we have that committee's ideas, if we still feel the need to hire a consultant, then we put in the contract that the consultant must come up with at least 10 -15 ideas not proposed by the committee, and the consultant must also propose ways to get funding for these ideas from other sources, other than the city government. If they do not fulfill these requirements, then they don't get paid. The third idea is to look back at all of the formerly proposed ideas by other consultants in the past. Before we hire a new consultant to go over what a former consultant had said to us 5 -10 years ago, let's make sure that we have already attempted all of the former consultants’ ideas and options.

The WRT study funded over two years ago did provide a strategic plan. Now that plan needs to be followed. This comes under the province of the GEDP, and both council and the mayor need to make sure that the GEDP does its job. Beyond that, I look at the recent zoning rewrite, done by a committee of citizens along with city hall staff, as a model of how strategic planning can be done without simply hiring consultants.

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