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Council will conduct special sessions to assess progress on specific items

Washington’s City Council is moving away from an annual retreat to identify and prioritize goals to a quarterly goals strategy.

Under the quarterly approach, the council will set goals for city staff to accomplish then determine three months later if those were accomplished, and if not accomplished find why those goals were not met. In previous years, the council would conduct a retreat, usually about six to eight hours long, early in the budget-preparation process.

“In preparation of the reports, to be presented by staff, I have listed for your information and review the 10-top listed suggestions the City Council wanted to address,” City Manager Bobby Roberson wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and council members. Those items are:

  • new police station;
  • installing larger drain pipes to alleviate drainage problems;
  • implement a program to generate the public’s (most, if not all, city residents) buy-in of city business so the public better understands what the council wants to accomplish;
  • unified vision of continuity from the council;
  • budget to revenue levels;
  • unity while working on one project at a time to ensure success;
  • improve relationships at the county, region, state and national levels;
  • increase jobs.

Those items were identified and prioritized at the council’s 2017 retreat. The list developed by the council includes 50 items, ranging from developing Washington-Warren Airport to continuing to seek county funding for city-provided services and programs used by county residents who do not live in the city.

There might have been confusion, according to one council member, regarding the approach the council wants to use in addressing important issues the city faces.

“The concept was, I thought, for us to have a session before our regular meeting or a separate meeting where we would sit down and discuss things that we thought needed immediate action and we would establish a set of goals for staff to work on for a 90-day or 180-day period of time. Ninety days later we would come back and get an update on the goals we had set and establish new goals as they come up,” Councilman Doug Mercer said. “That way we would have an ongoing list of projects that we had our finger on, that we wanted to see completed within a reasonable time limit so that it wouldn’t be dragging on for two or three or four years, unless it was a project that required that length of time to go on.”

Mayor Mac Hodges responded, “I’m alright with that. If council doesn’t object, maybe the next meeting we come in here at 4:40 (p.m.) and beat it around for an hour. That would be a more-friendly format to sit at a table.”

Councilman Roland Wyman concurred. “To me that would be more productive. I’d be fine with giving it a bit more time, if we wanted to make it 4 o’clock or something like that. … That format, to me, is a much more efficient way of exchanging information and ideas.”

The first implementation of the review-format is set for 4 p.m. April 9 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

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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