City to hold strategic planning workshops for public input

City officials are planning a series of workshops that will allow key stakeholders in Winters the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions on the development of the city.
FILE: The front of City Hall in Downtown Winters. Photo by Matthew Keys

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with a focus on five specific areas: Planning and economic development; community facilities and services, including parks; infrastructure, including city roads, water and wastewater services; city organization and structure, including roles of various city officials and staffing needs; and public safety. At the workshops, projects and priorities will be discussed among key stakeholders from the community. Following the workshops, city officials will hold a two-day session of meetings where the projects and priorities will be ranked. The meetings are expected to be held in an open forum setting and will be open to the public, Donlevy wrote in a staff note published before the council meeting. Donlevy said the idea is to put together a strategic plan on city business and services that could span anywhere from 15 to 30 years. Though the projects and ideas will be ranked, Donlevy said that doesn’t mean certain ideas are more important than others; instead, the ranking system serves to show that “some things simply take time, other things need to happen before you can get to various items.” “I can tell you, from where I sit, as we look at the overall strategic plan for the city, it’s going to determine the types of people we need to hire over the next couple of years,” Donlevy said. “What are the things we need to be working on over the next couple of years? It gives you direction.” Donlevy said the strategic planning workshop was “probably one of the more-important things that we do over the next couple of years” because the input from the public would help steer the direction of the city. The council largely agreed with the idea. “I think this is really important, and I agree with it,” City Council Member Jesse Loren said. She cautioned that as the city considered its strategic development plan — portions of which could be incorporated in refreshed versions of the city’s general plan — that certain needs and expectations from the city, such as the city’s commitment to a Climate Action Plan, should be considered. “I think that this will benefit the city, it will benefit council, it will benefit us in the long term, but we have to be mindful that there are other things that will contribute to the process,” Loren said. Donlevy said the strategic plan offered city officials a broader view on the initiatives that business owners and the general public would like to see coming from the city while taking into consideration future initiatives, such as the implementation of the Climate Action Plan, that the city would be obligated to consider. “I don’t know that the City of Winters is going to necessarily solve climate change by ourselves,” Donlevy said, noting that the Climate Action Plan and other initiatives mandated by the state would be considered. “The strategic plan is your ability to do things that are within your control…that are within what the community can do.” For example, Donlevy said the strategic workshops and subsequent plan could help the city determine what residents and business owners want to do about wastewater treatment. “If we go to tertiary treatment, it will have the biggest change in the history of Winters,” Donlevy said. “It will be a sea change of trying to figure out how to do a $20 million facility all at once.” But if that’s what residents and business owners want — or, perhaps, don’t want — the strategic workshops would be one of the key forums to voice that opinion. Mayor Pro Tempore Wade Cowan said the formation of the workshops was also important to help figure out the future structure of the city’s government. “There are several people who are going to retire,” Cowan said, “and we gotta have a plan on what we’re going to do to replace them.” In his staff report, Donlevy suggested holding the series of workshops in mid-December with a final two-day session culminating in early January. But based on feedback from the council and some members of the public, Donlevy said he would reconsider when the workshops would be held. In an email with the Express following last week’s council meeting, Donlevy said he was working to schedule the meetings after the new year with a culmination of the strategic planning workshops in the early spring of 2019.]]>

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