County discusses strategic plan proposal

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021

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Beaufort County government will soon begin discussions on creating a strategic plan.

County Commissioner John Rebholz brought up the idea during the board’s December meeting, citing the county’s lack of a long-term strategy.

“I’m not quite sure how we run a railroad when we don’t know where we’re going,” Rebholz said. “And we haven’t decided where we’re going. And I think this became clear when we just recently got this influx of money and we’re trying to figure out what to do with it.

“… We don’t really prioritize things, we are not able to offer to the other municipalities our plans and what they can do to integrate with that,” Rebholz added. “I think it’s just like Yogi Berra said, if you don’t know where you’re going you might end up in the wrong place.”

County Manager Brian Alligood supported the idea, noting that a similar proposal came up a couple of years ago but never came to fruition.

“John, if you’re talking about a strategic plan that involves how we go about doing certain things, and not a capital spending strategic plan, then I’m willing to talk about that,” Commissioner Hood Richardson said. “I’m not willing to get into this deal where we build this and we build that, and everybody thinks they have to go in that direction. I’m not for that. So if you want to talk about a strategic plan from the standpoint of the benefit of the county long-term as far as jobs for the people that are here, then I’m willing to do that.”

“Economic development is certainly a keystone part of that,” Rebholz responded, “but I think you would not be serving the people of the county if you ignored the county assets, and didn’t look toward the future and say, how long are these things going to survive? Are we going to save money to build or replace them in the time it’s needed?”

Rebholz said he looked at Catawba County, which was in a situation similar to Beaufort County’s in that its population was declining and it had no strategic plan in place. Once a strategic plan was implemented, Catawba County created thousands of jobs that helped mitigate the population issue.

“I’d like to participate in a strategic plan as well,” Commissioner Stan Deatherage said. “Probably more along the lines of what Hood is talking about, finding more ways to streamline government, make it more effective and resourceful so that we can cut spending, cut taxes and get the money back where it needs to go, to the hardworking taxpayers. Not everybody gets free money. Not everybody gets five days off for Christmas.”