Council focuses on goals

Published 12:48 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Washington’s new City Council developed a list of about 30 priorities it wants to focus on within three hours of taking office Monday.

The priorities were developed during a priorities planning session held at the Civic Center. Priorities were developed in three areas: improving the city’s economy, improving the city’s finances and improving the community. The priorities in each area were placed into three categories: immediate (six months to a year), short-term (two to three years) and long-term (five to 10 years).

Among the economic priorities to be addressed immediately are job creation, lower utility rates and the U.S. Highway 17 bypass’ impact on the city. Immediate financial priorities are ending fiscal years in the black, expanding the city’s load-management program and making a decision regarding the transfer of 911 services to Beaufort County. In the community-improvement category, the immediate priorities are for the city to develop a service-oriented mentality, doing a better job of communicating with and educating the public about city-related issues and improving the community’s appearance.

In all, the council identified seven economic-related priorities, seven financial-related priorities, 18 community-improvement-related priorities and three priorities that combine two of the three categories it wants to pursue.

Among the other priorities identified by the council are the following:

  • Continue to reduce the amount of money transferred from the electric fund to the general fund;
  • evaluate the possibility of outsourcing some city services;
  • evaluate the city’s economic-development partnerships and becoming more business friendly;
  • improve business recruitment and retention;
  • conduct a facilities assessment and develop a facilities master plan;
  • road improvements (working with the N.C. Department of Transportation to facilitate those improvements);
  • evaluate the city’s water and sewer capacities;
  • address drainage/stormwater issues;
  • pursuing grants to help provide the city with additional funds.

“You’re beginning a strategic planning process for the community and for the organization,” City Manager Josh Kay told the council and Mayor Archie Jennings at the beginning of the planning session. “You all as council members, your role in this form of government is to set policy. If you think about it, the analogy that I use, council is the compass. You set the direction. You tell us where you want to go. The city manager and management staff, our responsibility is to be the map — to take us through the turns, right at the stop sign, left at the stop sign, to get to that end goal.”

For more coverage of the planning session, including details about the priorities set by the council, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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