There were several colorful descriptions of how the City of Augusta addresses issues at its meeting this week.
According to the discussion, the city metaphorically plays whack-a-mole and feeds alligators that jump the highest and bite the hardest.
Basically, the council wants to move its policy making from reactive to proactive.
“There’s a saying that just because we are going somewhere, that doesn’t mean it’s where we want to go,” said City Manager Gabe Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said his belief the city needs a strategic plan doesn’t mean the city isn’t or hasn’t been doing a good job.
“Cities tend to waste time and resources playing whack-a-mole rather than having a clear vision of where we are going and how to maximize our resources,” Gonzalez said.
Vision Augusta was a similar process that took place in 2008. Gonzalez envisions a “ground up” strategic plan that includes meetings defining the city’s mission, vision and values. He told the governing body those three elements are the foundation of the plan to help develop the goals and objectives.
The project is designed to create a handful of strategic goals on a five-year timeframe. Within each of those goals are short-term objectives and tasks to help accomplish them.
Gonzalez selected the same firm that helped the governing body find and select him as the new city manager to lead the vision process. The Austin Peters Group will facilitate and develop the strategic plan.
The city will pay $4,000 for APGI’s work on the project.
There will be three focus groups held at The Point events center. They will include:
1) City Employees and committee members. (Jan. 30)
2) Community stakeholders like business owners and community groups. (Feb. 4)
3) City manager, governing body and department heads. (March 1)
These groups will bring input back to the city council to provide a framework and an analysis of the data the focus groups provide.
After the plan is presented to the public and the council, it would be adopted for approval and used in the process of policy creation.
Councilor Ron Reavis said he was a believer in strategic plans and supported the idea of this one.
However, he said, “Realistically, I am a bit skeptical.”
He listed many plans that have been developed since he has been on the council.
“Realistically, everyone knows where we need to go and what needs to be done, but it all comes down to the resources that are available to get things done,” Reavis said.
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Kent Bush can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.