City objectives surface at strategic retreat

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City officials and council members met for their fourth strategic planning retreat on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Old Ranch Country Club.

The purpose of the all-day meeting was for city leaders to review accomplishments, address weaknesses and challenges and review progress toward achieving city goals. The meeting included all five council members, the city manager and assistant city manager, the city clerk, the police chief, department heads and other city staff.

The first official task of the meeting was for everyone to brainstorm the city’s strengths or accomplishments achieved since the last strategic retreat on April 4. The list of 86 accomplishments ranged from the adoption of a balanced budget to the restriping of crosswalks and the 8th Street and 10th Street beach parking lots to the increasing of revenue through meter replacements.

They also brainstormed the city’s challenges, both external and internal, opportunities and threats. (You can see the full lists on the city’s website under “Strategic Planning Report”)

A main focus of the meeting, which was moderated by Marilyn Snider of Snider and Associates, was for the city to work on its three-year goals.

The goals were originally drafted in 2016 at the city’s first strategic planning retreat and expanded at the April meeting.

They are:

• Provide a quality beach and pier environment, including a restaurant

• Achieve short-and long-term fiscal sustainability

• Improve and maintain infrastructure and facilities

• Attract, develop, compensate and retain quality staff

• Enhance public safety.

They are not listed in any priority order.

Beach Environment

Councilwoman Ellery Deaton, Finance Director Victoria Beatley and others expressed the need to get the tidelands lease approved by the state as soon as possible.

The city set a goal of Dec. 15, 2017 to get the tidelands lease, an agreement with the State Lands Commission that governs the beach and pier, approved.

Other objectives for the next six months regarding the beach and pier include: A presentation by the Public Works Director on the plans and cost estimates for the Pier Construction Project to the City Council by Feb. 1, 2018; Securing outside agency permits for the Pier construction project by Dec. 1, 2017.

Fiscal Sustainability

Finance Director Victoria Beatley spoke on the budget challenges facing the city.

She is exploring more revenue sources including considering a ballot measure. Details on the ballot measure were not discussed.

Beatley set a goal of recommending to the City Council “direction options for new revenue sources” by Feb. 1, 2018.

Other revenue options discussed included putting parking meters on Main Street and finding more revenue from gas and oil extraction.

Public Works Director Steve Myrter discussed the possibility of raising water and sewer rates.

He said the rates will need to go up at some point but he’s not sure how soon that should occur to finance needed projects.

Myrter wants time to research and set a March 1, 2018 goal to make a recommendation to the City Council.

Improve and Maintain Infrastructure

The City has an updated its Facility Building Assessment and is slated to discuss the 2017 version and prioritize projects at the Feb. 26, 2018 City Council meeting. Public Works Director Steve Myrter and a representative from the Marine Safety/Lifeguards Department both expressed deep concern about the condition of the Lifeguard Headquarters, which they both said was in need of extensive repairs.

Swimming Pool

Tim Kelsey from the Community Services/Recreation Department said the replacement for the pool currently at J.H. McGaugh Elementary is still years away. He said that maintenance issues at the pool are being addressed and being paid for with money from the general fund. He said the city is working with the Naval Weapons Station on the plan to build an aquatic facility there but said the approval process has been time consuming.

Attract and Retain Quality Staff

The objectives listed for this goal include completing negotiations with the Police Officers Association and the Police Management Association by January 2018. Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos noted that the city had successful negotiations with the Marine Safety Management Association in the last six months. Gallegos also expressed a desire to initiate an Employee Wellness Program and a City Mentorship Program.

Public Safety

Interim Police Chief Joe Miller spoke about his desire to hire more two more officers as soon as possible. Interim Police Chief Miller and Finance Director Victoria Beatley will present a staff report on the hiring of two more police officers to City Council at the Nov. 13 meeting. (See page 1 for story on that) Chief Miller also plans to present an organizational plan highlighting staffing needs at the Jan. 22, 2018 City Council meeting. The City adopted a new Emergency Operations Plan. The City also plans to hold a Citywide Emergency Operations Center scenario training exercise and a CPR training at J.H. McGaugh Elementary School sometime in the next six months.

This is an abbreviated list of some of the objectives and goals discussed at the Oct. 18 retreat.