So last February we finished our budget process, but to me it seems like only yesterday. It took us almost 90 hours and was a fantastic exercise to determine where best to spend money and identify what are priorities were.
Another great way to determine the municipality’s priorities is through strategic planning. Many municipalities don’t use strategic planning sessions at all, and hence I might tend to ask those municipalities what are their strategy for going forward?
Our Town on the other hand does strategic planning every year. Council takes the opportunity to meet with all of the town directors and get together for a day and half and do plan for the upcoming year. First off we look at what we want, and we toss out ideas that we think are important, and areas we want to see things improve or where we want money spent. Some of these ideas could be increased policing, more programming, pool renovations, racquetball courts or a salary review for staff.
We then make a point to prioritize from that list what is important. We also spend some time with our staff to find out what they are working on and how busy they are. This planning helps us get a reality check every year, as well as a report card on how we are doing in the current year.
Setting a strategy and making a good budget are solid fundamentals that help run a municipality. The last thing you want is a council that disagrees on everything, doesn’t know how to compromise and gives bad directions. You also don’t want an administration that is confused about what its elected leaders want. As such doing the planning sessions helps us, as council; determine what makes sense and what is realistic. To be honest these two events are some of my most favorite things about being mayor because this is really where and how big change can happen.
So when is this happening? Budget and Strategic Planning will both commence in early October. This year we are starting budget early to get a better jump on work planned for 2016. Often it’s difficult for staff to make plans if the budget is not approved, as such us getting this done sooner allows them to be better prepared to carry out the direction we set forth in the coming year.
So how can you get involved? I’m always interested to hear what people want and where they want us focused. If you are wanting less taxes that is possible, but I need to know what you are willing to give up. So maybe its pool upgrades and racquetball courts. Maybe you want more youth programming or policing. Maybe you want better road maintenance. There might even be some that are happy just the way things are. In the end we want to hear your thoughts. If you check out our town website at the bottom there is a spot for comments. It only takes a few minutes to give feedback, but that feedback is then shared with all of council. This is done relatively anonymous. The only ones that see your comments idea and feedback is council, we don’t share it with the public. So take five minutes and share your thoughts. We are coming up to two years into this term and we want to know if we are succeeding or failing. Help us shape 2016 and beyond.