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Council planning retreat to focus on long-term City goals
Intent is to create a strategy and philosophy to follow as the City moves into the future
March 21, 2013
Last month, the Prineville City Council adopted its goals for the coming year, but now, Councilor Steve Uffelman wants to take the practice a step further.
He is proposing a plan that would help the Council develop a long-term vision of 20 years or more for Prineville government.
“I am pleased with the decisions of the City Council and I truly believe they have done a good job of keeping the City in good stead,” he told his fellow councilors during a meeting last Tuesday. “The fundamental pain that I continue to struggle with is this: Is Prineville evolving and growing with a plan in mind, or are we solely functioning in a reactionary way as new opportunities or problems are presented?”
Uffelman pointed out that each councilor serves on multiple committees throughout the community that cover such things as transportation or finance. Since individuals sit on these committees as opposed to the whole group, he has concerns that decisions made by councilors might reflect personal views, but not the view of council as a whole.
Given all of his concerns, Uffelman proposed that the Council schedule at least one retreat where they would get together and focus on long-term plans for the City.
“I would hope that we can establish targets toward how we want this community to evolve, as well as confront problems and opportunities,” he said. “Lack of planning leads to unintended consequences that are not only an embarrassment to the Council, but more importantly – far more importantly – are a detriment to our community.”
The idea received unanimous approval from the other councilors who presented some of their reasons for supporting it.
“I’ll echo some of the same sentiments based on our conversations that we have had on the finance committee,” said Councilor Dean Noyes. “We’re working through some of the opportunities that the City has on its horizon, and it makes sense to make sure that we are folding all of the aspects of the City’s government together.”
Councilor Jack Seley said that he supported the idea 110 percent, and felt that a long-term plan and philosophy would give Prineville an advantage over other municipalities.
“One of the problems that other communities have, is they don’t have the glue that ties everything together,” he said.
Seley later added that he hopes the process will create a philosophy that future City administrations can refer to as they govern Prineville.
Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester lauded the idea as well, calling it a testament to the staff and foundation the City has built. He pointed out that the City has already developed long-term plans for transportation, utilities, and its business models for enterprise funds.
If they proceed in developing a long-term plan, Forrester encouraged the Council to approach the process with an open mind.
“I would ask you to consider instead of just traditional strategic planning, I would ask you to be thinking about what I call strategic principles,” he said. “Those strategic principles can be broken down into disciplines such as utilities, infrastructure, finances, public safety – and they can be overlaid as part of what drives our Council goal process and what we want this community to look like.”
Uffelman expressed a desire to include a third-party facilitator if they hold a retreat, and Forrester has already reached out to some people he knows who could fill that role.
The Council has not yet scheduled a retreat, but they will likely discuss the idea further at their next meeting on Tuesday.