Strategic-planning sessions slated by Crestwood board

Board to pay more than $9,000 for 2006 sessions, less than $3,000 for 2007


As Crestwood aldermen will sit down this week to formulate new annual goals as part of a two-day, strategic-planning session, they also will finally pay the bill for last year’s strategic planning.

Aldermen were scheduled Tuesday night — after the Call went to press — to vote on a $9,298 payment to strategic-planning consultant Lyle Sumek for services performed during the city’s initial three-day, strategic-planning drive in September 2006.

City Administrator Frank Myers originally estimated the cost for last year’s strategic planning would range from $8,000 to $9,000.

This year’s planning sessions will come out at a much lower cost as aldermen voted in June to pay just less than $3,000 to Organization Consultants representative Robert J. Saunders for two days of strategic planning. Saunders is a former city ad-ministrator in the Kansas City-area cities of Belton and Liberty.

Last year, Myers made an administrative decision without a vote by the Board of Aldermen to pay for strategic planning by employing the services of Florida-based Sumek Associates Inc.

The city administrator previously had employed Sumek’s planning services when Myers was the city manager of Trotwood, Ohio.

This year’s strategic-planning sessions will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. to-day, Sept. 27.

Both sessions to discuss the city’s future will take place at the Crestwood Com-munity Center at Whitecliff Park and are open to the public.

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.

But 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 more encompassing items.

As for last year’s sessions, the city re-ceived an invoice from Sumek in May for a $9,298.04 cost associated with last year’s strategic planning.

That amount includes an $8,000 base fee; $711.45 for on-site expenses like air fare, car rental, meals, transportation and the use of Kinko’s; $454.59 for preparation, duplication and shipping of the final report; and $132 in telephone calls.

While the $9,298 cost for Sumek turned out to be higher than originally estimated, Myers pointed out in a Sept. 17 memo to the Board of Aldermen that his rate was actually discounted to a level at which the city saved more than $5,000.

“It should be noted that Mr. Sumek traditionally bills his clients at a fee of $175 per hour plus out of pocket expenses,” Myers wrote. “Given the city’s financial condition at the time this service was sought, Mr. Sumek agreed to provide this service at a flat rate of $8,000.

“Therefore, his bill reflects a discount of $5,125. The administration recommends approval of this budget amendment in order for this bill to be paid,” the city administrator wrote.

At 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 at the Government Center — include a 2007 balanced budget, the elimination of a line of credit, the implementation of quarterly financial re-ports, 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 toward 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.

City officials 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.

The city also has 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 Sep-tember 2006 sessions was neither budgeted nor approved by the Board of Aldermen and that Myers had made an administrative decision to approve the cost of Sumek’s services.

Other residents also contended that the strategic-planning 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 of the city’s elected officials.

Mayor Roy Robinson and Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel originally recommended last 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 that more strategic planning is needed and have also supported the work that sprung from the sessions conducted in September 2006.

Myers echoed those sentiments during the Feb. 28 rally, when he said that despite criticism from residents as well as “the media and (KTVI reporter) Elliott Davis,” the city has directly 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 by city officials during last year’s strategic-planning sessions for 2011 include Crestwood becoming a financially sustainable and responsible city government, upgrading city infrastructure and facilities, promoting livable neighborhoods and quality homes, developing “Historic Route 66” along Watson Road as the “heart of Crestwood” and making Crestwood “a great place to live and the community of choice.”