One city, one plan
City Administrator Scot Simpson presented the City Council at its July 28 meeting a work plan to participate in organizational goal setting.
After starting his job in May, Simpson dug into learning about the city from departmental meetings, its comprehensive plan, the capital improvements budget and talking to both residents and staff members.
What he found was a varied list of goals and mission statements and a list of some 120 potential projects generated from many different sources. Simpson said at the meeting he'd like to the city streamline its goals and projects list.
Simpson agrees that the "city" has many tentacles -- its residents, its staff, its councilors and its board/commission/committee members. All of those groups communicate, generate ideas and begin putting them into action.
While those efforts are all good, Simpson recognizes that the city only has so much money to do so many things. He suggested developing organizational goals that will help River Falls decide which projects get on the immediate to-do list and which ones go on the "future" list.
"It's basically just an inventory of all the projects," Simpson said last week about the long project list he presented at the meeting.
The administrator has used the organizational goal-setting process before, calling it a management and good-communication tool. He said it would keep the city focused on the greatest needs first, while also letting people know where their project of interest stands.
"I'd rather do less things well than a lot of things poorly," Simpson said.
He said in some cases, projects came to be with as few as one person saying, "This is a project."
The list reflects jobs the city is mandated to do such as census taking, budget making, election holding and emergency-management preparation. It also differentiates the projects that the City Council has already agreed should happen like identifying potential business park sites, evaluating rental-inspection fees and pursuing the Lake George redevelopment project.
The list shows a litany of other miscellaneous jobs waiting to happen, everything from a readiness plan for the Emerald Ash Borer to devising a 20-year infrastructure plan.
"The City Council really needs to help define what the priorities are," he said.
With that focus, the city will be able to get started and make progress faster. He said internal communication will be key to making that happen.
Simpson told the council it probably used to be easier for River Falls to stay in closer touch.
Now it's grown to a size that calls for a more formalized plan, put together based on everyone's feedback and input.
Having a unified plan will help all those working for the city move in the right direction.
Workshop on horizon
Simpson said at the council meeting, "So let's sit down and try to agree: What is the priority at this time? I don't want to wait a whole other year before starting this process."
Discussion led to the council deciding it would hold a workshop before the Aug. 25 City Council meeting, inviting city staff and chair people of the city's various boards, commissions and committees.
There attendees will begin to prioritize and narrow down the project list. Simpson said doing so will require input from everyone.
"The organization is driven by the community's desires," he said on the phone.
He anticipates that the list would grow and change and be something River Falls would revisit at least once a year. It will heighten awareness that when a new project is added, another must come off and go into the future column.
Simpson says the list would enable River Falls to let people know where things stand and say "no for now" in a more professional manner. The final list will correspond directly to available funding.
He advised about River Falls' organizational goals, "We want to supply a challenge, but we also want (it) to be achievable."
Simpson said the Aug. 25 workshop is open to the public but technically not a public hearing, e.g., an opportunity for public comment. He encourages resident input and suggested that to provide some, people get in touch with the city staff person or the board/commission/committee chair people closest to the project.
After the workshop, he plans to present the draft list again at a City Council meeting and ask the members to finalize it.