Board of Aldermen to prioritize goals for Crestwood later this month

Aldermen to meet in public strategic-planning sessions on Sept. 26, 27

By BURKE WASSON

For the second straight year, Crestwood aldermen will meet to prioritize their goals and vision for the city during a two-day strategic-planning session.

The Board of Aldermen will meet from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, to discuss its goals for the future. Both sessions are open to the public and will take place at the Crestwood Community Center at Whitecliff Park.

This year’s sessions also will come at a cheaper cost to the city than last year’s initial strategic-planning push.

Aldermen voted in June to pay just shy of $3,000 to Organization Consultants representative Robert J. Saunders, a former city administrator for the Kansas City-area cities of Belton and Liberty.

Last year, City Administrator Frank Myers made an administrative decision, without a vote by the Board of Aldermen, to pay more than $8,000 for strategic planning to Lyle Sumek of Florida-based Sumek Associates Inc.

Like 2006, Myers said the city’s primary objective for strategic planning is to develop a new business plan with attainable goals for the next year.

While last year’s strategic-planning sessions resulted in 24 one-year “action items” for the city, Myers said several aldermen have expressed a desire to whittle the number of one-year goals down to 10 to 15 meaningful items.

“There are a number of aldermen that felt 24 items would stretch the capacity of our organization too much,” Myers said. “And I think they’ll be trying to narrow down the number of action items to maybe 10 to 15. Then once the board reaches consensus on those 10 to 15 items, I will be mobilizing the organization through multi-departmental performance teams to implement those actions by the board.”

During a Feb. 28 strategic-planning rally at the Crestwood Government Center, Myers and several city officials highlighted goals accomplished through last year’s round of strategic planning.

These accomplished goals — now symbolized by paper leaves stapled on the city’s “Tree of a Lifetime” in the Board of Aldermen chambers — include a 2007 balanced budget, the elimination of a line of credit, the implementation of quarterly financial reports, the scheduling of the city’s 60th anniversary celebration and decisions to lease/purchase 10 new police cars and offer Wi-Fi Internet access at the Crestwood Community Center and pool.

Myers said these goals that already have been accomplished through strategic planning are signs that the city is moving to-ward its Crestwood Vision 2021, which is “a community for a lifetime.”

Ultimately, last year’s sessions resulted in 25 one-year priorities — which the Board of Aldermen approved in October as a resolution — five-year goals and a 15-year vision for Crestwood. The city also formed multi-departmental teams for each of the 25 one-year goals, and those task forces have continued to meet.

Myers said that with three new aldermen on board this year, he anticipates the makeup of those employee teams charged with carrying out board-approved goals will change along with the goals themselves.

“We have several new board members,” Myers said. “And this is going to be their plan. So I would expect there to be not much overlap. The items that we’ve completed, we’re going to move on from.”

Crestwood officials also have moved on from residents’ criticism of last year’s strategic-planning sessions.

Residents told aldermen last fall that they were concerned that the cost for the September 2006 sessions was neither budgeted nor approved by the Board of Aldermen.

That cost was approved by Myers as an administrative decision. The city administrator also previously employed Sumek’s planning services when Myers was the city manager of Trotwood, Ohio.

Other Crestwood residents also contended the sessions were unnecessary and believe that they produced little more than goals set through the Crestwood 2000 Commission, which was established in 1997.

The renewal of that strategic planning in 2007 also was met with skepticism by some elected officials.

Mayor Roy Robinson and Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel originally recommended in October as members of the city’s Ways and Means Committee to not include more planning sessions in 2007.

But this year, Robinson and Miguel agree more strategic planning is needed and have also supported the work that sprung from the sessions in September 2006.

Myers echoed those sentiments at the Feb. 28 rally, when he said that despite criticism from residents as well as “the media and (KTVI reporter) Elliott Davis,” the city directly has benefited from his decision to pay more than $8,000 for last year’s three-day strategic-planning sessions.

Strategic-planning teams have continued to study a five-year street program, a cash-flow reporting policy, the best use of the Sappington House, a five-year maintenance plan for parks and centers, reconstruction of the Pardee Road bridge, fleet management, an employee-retention program and a city-marketing program.

Goals set last year for 2011 include Crestwood becoming a financially sustainable and responsible city government, upgrading city infrastructure and facilities, promoting livable neighborhoods and quality homes, develop “Historic Route 66” along Watson Road as the “heart of Crestwood” and making Crestwood “a great place to live and the community of choice.”

Myers said while he believes that Crestwood has benefited and will continue to reap rewards from strategic planning, these goals ultimately are driven not by him, but by the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

“The importance of this strategic-planning process is that it’s driven by the community through the elected leadership,” he said. “And it’s the administration’s job to implement the plan. And I don’t believe that really what I see or what individual staff sees is relevant. I think it’s what the political leadership wants. So I won’t be really having that kind of input in the process. It’s their job to drive the vision of the city. And it’s my job through the organization to implement it. So I look forward to supporting them and carrying out that vision.”