Each year the City Council assembles in retreat to review their current Strategic Plan and make necessary revisions for the next year. The Council met at the end of August for this purpose. Of course, as we know all too well, 2020 is unlike any other year in recent history, and so the work on the Council’s Strategic Plan too is unlike any previously undertaken. This week’s post provides a glimpse into the work currently underway as the Council endeavors to update its Strategic Plan.
Immediately following adoption of the FY21 Budget, City Administration and the Council began to construct a framework to shape the Strategic Plan update. This framework is oriented around five actions:
Prior to beginning the Strategic Plan update, the Mayor and Council convened a series of virtual conversations with stakeholders and community members, centered around each of the priorities contained in their current Strategic Plan. Input from these conversations, as well as from a number of one-on-one conversations with various key stakeholders throughout the community, helped provide context for the Council as it began its work.
In addition to the conversations, City Administration has established an Economic Advisory Panel and Diversity in Engagement Advisory Panel, both intended to assist the City in learning firsthand the current challenges faced by individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others as they strive to respond to and recover from COVID-19. At the August City Council retreat, City department directors presented to Council information about the current strategies used and outcomes achieved in each of the identified priority areas. This information, combined with what was learned through the conversations, prepared the Council to engage in a meaningful and thorough discussion about each of its strategic priorities.
At the August retreat and subsequent Council work sessions, the Council shared with one another their thoughts regarding each of the strategic priorities – where they felt greater attention was necessary, where things were moving along as expected, etc. Out of these discussions came a number of “takeaways” that will guide the Council and City staff as they prepare a draft for a new Strategic Plan to present to the community and ultimately act upon in early 2021.
The Mayor and Council recognize that, more so than in years past, the new Strategic Plan needs to be action-oriented, clearly defining the strategies and outcomes that are to be taken and expected over the next two years, as the community works to respond to COVID-19 and seeks to recover from its impacts. The Council is also focused on ensuring strong and clear linkages between the strategic priorities and budget expenditures, and expects a strong emphasis on equity in these expenditures. In addition, the Council acknowledges the challenge of achieving all of this within a fiscally challenging environment.
A number of the strategic priorities have initial ideas that warrant further conversations. These include enhancing community safety through non-police actions, such as additional resources to address mental health, substance use, homelessness, etc.; enhanced neighborhood engagement/coordination; revamped youth recreation sports program; and assessment of the viability of village centers. Each of these (and others) will be the subject of further discussions with various interested parties over the next several months.
In addition to the continued conversations around specific initial ideas, the Council will convene in its annual budget planning retreat in mid-November where further discussion about the linkage between strategic action and the FY22 Budget will occur. The budget planning retreat is the opportunity for Council to provide policy-level expectations to City Administration, who then builds a budget proposal, which is presented to Council in the spring of 2021. Along the way, in the early part of 2021, there will be a series of budget planning work sessions with Council, designed to refine revenue projections and offer additional clarity in what might be proposed with the FY22 Budget.
Those interested in learning more about this process and following its progression are encouraged – starting in January 2021 – to: