City Council members move from yearly planning session to quarterly meeting approach

Published 5:34 pm Thursday, April 5, 2018

Washington’s City Council has a two-part meeting Monday: a planning session and its regular meeting.

The planning session begins at 4 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Earlier this year, the council switched 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.

Last month, City Manager Bobby Roberson provided the council at list of 10 prioritized items the council indicated it wants to address. 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.

Councilman Doug Mercer believes the quarterly reviews will be more efficient and productive than an annual planning session. “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,” Mercer said at the council’s March 12 meeting.

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 council meets at 4 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St., for a planning session. The regular meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.

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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