Quarterly planning sessions set city goals, evaluate progress

Published 6:02 pm Sunday, July 29, 2018

Prior to its regular July 9 meeting, Washington’s City Council conducted one if its quarterly planning sessions.

Earlier this year, the council switched from an annual retreat to identify and prioritize goals to a quarterly goals strategy session. 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.

Council members and the mayor believe this new approach should make it easier for them to keep their fingers on the pulse of the city — keeping up with building projects, changes in city services and how city programs are progressing. The quarterly planning meetings should be more productive and efficient than the previous annual planning meetings, they noted.

In March, two council members voiced their support for the quarterly meetings.

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.”

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,” he said.

At the July 9 meeting, the council talked about writing a communications policy for the city and its employees. Wyman believes the city has made progress with improving the city’s Facebook pages.

“As for writing the communications policy, which would include a section on social media, Stacey Everette (human-resources director), David Carraway (information-technology director) and myself have researched standards and best practices. There should be enough information to begin creating the outline soon,” Wyman wrote in his notes on the planning session.

Just recently, the council was asked to waive building and inspection fees related to a nonprofit organization moving into its temporary headquarters, leading to the council discussing the issue at the planning session.

“I am in favor of formalizing a policy that states the city does not waive fees. I may not know off there is to know about this. Are there situations where we are legally required to consider waivers? Is there reason we cannot adopt a policy of not waiving fees?” Wyman wrote.

Some of the key items the council wants to keep close track of include building a new police station, improving drainage along the Jack’s Creek basin, bringing more jobs to the city, budgeting to revenue levels and implementing 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.

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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