City determines priority needs at goal setting workshops

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The Winters City Council hosted goal setting workshops on Friday and Saturday mornings in the Public Safety Facility Community Room over the weekend.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa led the workshop attended by city council members and city department leaders in fire, police, public works, community development and general government.

Five goal setting focus areas were established:

1. Fiscal stability.

2. Community engagement and transparency.

3. Economic development.

4. Community development.

5. Organizations/operational excellence.

Director of Administrative Services Shelly Gumby presented an overview of what general government is, how it operates and what types of services the city can provide to the community now and in the future. Infrastructure, recreation, staffing and facilities all fall under general government.

Gumby also reviewed the city’s finances, how projects are paid for and maintained and how revenue comes to the city through fees, bonds, taxes and grants.

Police Chief John P. Miller started out his presentation by saying, “It’s not only what we do, but how we do it.” He detailed accomplishments with the police department in moving forward with equipment, technology and training within budget and COVID limitations. Miller referenced some challenges to his budget and revenue sources, as well as changes within the criminal justice system, but acknowledged that there are also opportunities.

Public Works projects and needs were presented by Public Works Operations Manager Eric Lucero who cited challenges in adjusting staffing levels and contracted services to manage city maintenance. Wastewater treatment falls under Public Works as does water distribution. The city has five water wells with another one in design, over 32 miles of water mains and 11 miles of service lines.

Fire Chief Brad L. Lopez spoke for the 119-year-old fire department that he said covers 86 square miles of the city and district. The department saw a 17 percent increase in service calls in 2020 from the previous year.

Lopez told the council of staffing, equipment and vehicle needs, as well as challenges, that the fiscal year 2021-22 budget of $1,426,828 cannot cover. Lopez said the department has been fortunate with grants, but noted they are not sustainable to keep pace with a growing community.

The Saturday morning session allowed the council to determine priority needs within the focus areas to set goals. In the process, a sixth focus area was identified – “new topics.”

Fiscal stability covered imposing a citywide maintenance assessment and development of a capital improvement plan for water, sewer, facilities and parks.

Community engagement goals were directed toward creating a new city website and getting community input for building a sports park.

Economic development included “exploring” cannabis, but the council appeared hesitant to move forward with any goals. Retrofitting second story downtown buildings for earthquake safety was important, but it was said that many of the buildings needing retrofitting are private property. Retrofitted second story spaces could be rented out and add to the vision of downtown.

For community development, the council prioritized downtown visioning and plan implementation, outdoor dining, ARP grant funding, expanding bike lanes and ensuring a bike and pedestrian master plan.

Goals set under organizational/operational excellence were identified to develop council norms, technology review and upgrades, staff stabilization and compensation evaluation.

As for “new topics,” members wanted to focus on “green priorities” to confirm the work plans of two new natural resources commissions, to plant trees to create an urban forest and to review the status of the community center.

The workshops concluded with council members having discussed a number of issues, voicing their concerns and coming together to set priority goals.

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