Council to plan future of Washington in special session

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


Both the existing Washington City Council and the recently elected incoming members of the council will discuss the future of the city during a special session Tuesday evening with its annual strategic goal settings.

Because new members are coming onto the council, the decision was made to hire a consultant to facilitate the meeting. Both the council members and city department heads met with consultant Mark Jackson on Nov. 14. Jackson has prepared a summary of the remarks he received, which the council will discuss during the meeting. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Nicola/Stoufer Room in the Washington Public Library.

?This process is useful in getting everyone to step back from all of the details from meeting to meeting, and try to look at the big picture,? city administrator Brent Hinson said. ?Even more importantly, it is a good opportunity tio get everyone on the same page in agreeing on what the big picture is and what the City?s approach to it should look like.?

He said if the council can reach a consensus on the broad direction of the city?s efforts, the city is better able to spend the public?s money more wisely and strategically. He also said the staff is provided a direction and able to do their jobs better.

Hinson said during the session, council members try to reach a consensus on between three and six specific priorities for the next two calendar years. He said that while the council updates priorities every year, a two-year window recognizes that many major initiatives take more than a calendar year to complete.

Included in the council packet are the results of an online survey the city took to gather information from the public on what issues should be at the forefront.

The survey got 60 responses from the public and an additional seven from elected officials and 16 from city staff.

?As might be expected, the responses from the general public are fairly well all over the board,? Hinson said. ?There are a fair amount of compliments, but also some good constructive criticism.?

The survey showed rthat housing concerns are among the top concerns of the people who took the survey.

The development of the Wellness Park also scored high among concerns.

Tying for top goals for the next three to five years were housing development, continuing the streetscape project, and business development.