City Council members re-address goals set earlier this year

Sean C. Morgan

The City Council got together last week to salvage its short-circuited goals for the current year during a special meeting held on Aug. 9.

Councilor Jeff Goodwin told the other councilors he would like to see more specific goals, such as building three new marked crosswalks between Clark Mill Road and Foster, rather than the 11 vague goals the council wrote during a work session in January.

“My frustration with the goal setting process is these goals are not deliverable,” Goodwin said. “They’re not really measurable. They’re kind of ethereal to me. We have a beautiful Strawberry Park plan. Let’s get it done by next summer.”

Facilitator John Morgan told the council that circumstances kept the goals from including more specific projects.

Normally, he said, city staff would create more specific objectives under each of the goals established in January and then return to the council for final approval. Since those goals were created, city staffing was disrupted when the council forced City Manager Craig Martin to retire and Martin’s exit was followed almost immediately by city Planning Services Manager Laura LaRoque.

After they were drafted in January, he said, “they were not subsequently adopted. A lot of things have happened in the last eight months.”

The council had a day and a half to work on the goals in January, said Mayor Jim Gourley, and the 90-minute special meeting on Aug. 9 is not enough time to go over all the work the council already did.

The January draft goals included the following:

-Create an economic development function in City Hall to lead and implement economic development, with two objectives, establishing a council subcommittee and staff position for economic development efforts.

– Create a comprehensive city economic development plan combining what already exists, with an objective to create a plan for strengthening Sweet Home’s economic future.

– Continue partnerships with other agencies and groups to further the redevelopment of the county mill properties, with an objective of leveraging partnerships to support redevelopment efforts for economic and livability benefits.

– Create a technology assessment and plan to leverage existing resources and meet public expectations and better communicate with the public, with an objective to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of existing technology.

– Create a community and city government strategic plan, with an objective to determine if a plan would be beneficial.

– Develop stable, long-term funding for police and library operations, with an objective to replace the current temporary operating levies.

– Establish a healthcare committee and follow through to systems improvements.

– Create local policy and codes that support the provision of housing to meet the needs of all citizens, with objectives to revise the residential development code for flexibility in all zones, researching the feasibility of a habitability code and improving the quality of rental and housing stock.

– Expand city code enforcement program and services, with an objective to improve livability in Sweet Home.

– Improve opportunities and service levels of city parks, recreation and open space, with objectives to improve the use of parks and open spaces, improve service and maintenance levels and support recreation and open space provisions for residents and visitors.

– Develop a city facilities building master plan, with an objective to determine immediate and future needs for city building facilities.

Councilors noted that the city has been meeting some of these goals all year long with additional funding to parks, a new maintenance worker dedicated to parks, $50,000 budgeted for economic development, the purchase of a new City Hall and the establishment of a healthcare committee.

Each of the goals and objectives in the draft document included specific actions to achieve those goals.

“They don’t reflect my priorities and the priorities of the people I’m talking to in the community,” Goodwin said. He shared a list of goals with the council that included among them new crosswalks and Strawberry Park, as well as establishment of three urban renewal districts to help in the economic development of Sweet Home.

“Goals this general leave open the possibility of accomplishing nothing and not being held accountable,” Goodwin said.

“To go over all this stuff and say that we wasted our time is not true,” said Councilor Dave Trask. We did the best we could with the people we have.”

He added, turning to Morgan, “I think you did a good job.”

Had the process worked normally, the council would have work programs in the budget to meet these goals doing exactly what Goodwin is talking about, Morgan said. The council was kind of going back to step one last week, he said.

Morgan suggested that the council send the existing draft to the staff to incorporate Goodwin’s ideas and to add their own specific actions to the plan.

“Look at the goals, and we’ll get into the weeds (specific action plans),” Finance Director Pat Gray told the council.

City staff will submit an updated proposal to the council at a later meeting.