A city can accomplish “a billion things” in a year, consultant Gregg Piburn told the Laramie City Council during its goal-setting retreat on Saturday. He added, however, that the council needed to prioritize just two or three strategic “high-level objectives” to accomplish in 2019 to see the best success.
The seven council members who attended the goal-setting portion of the retreat chose environmental stewardship, holistic economic development and maintaining and improving city services as the primary objectives for 2019, also outlining specific “measurable milestone goals” to track progress.
Despite the wide variety of individual goals the council members have this year, many of them ended up gravitating towards the same three high-level objectives.
“Everybody here is trying to make Laramie better,” said councilwoman Erin O’Doherty. “I don’t see any self-serving objectives; we’re all heading to the same goals.”
Piburn, president and founder of Leader’s Edge Consulting, said while the city might have a long list of important projects, setting too many goals can make it hard to achieve any of them. In his years spent consulting city councils, he said cities have found more success focusing on two or three strategic, achievable goals.
One of the strategic, high-level goals most of the Council supported was holistic economic development. Councilman Brian Harrington said a holistic look at economic development was important because it can encompass a variety of factors that attract businesses to town, including public art and affordable housing.
Measurable milestone goals to track 2019’s economic development include having the city create an action plan to start implementing broadband improvements, attracting 3-4 new businesses to Laramie during the year and revisiting the city’s comprehensive plan for development, including possibly creating an entrepreneur incubator.
Environmental stewardship was another high-level objective many of the council members felt passionate about, including councilwoman Jayne Pearce. Pearce said qualities like outdoor recreation and clean air and water are “basically the reason why people are here.”
“What’s the point of economic development if no one will be here because the water’s crap?” Pearce asked. “To me it either goes without saying because it’s so important, or it needs to be overarching. Because, seriously, would we be living here if this were Flint [Michigan]?”
The measurable milestone goals for Laramie’s environmental stewardship would be to initiate discussion with Albany County officials and public about updating the Casper Aquifer Protection Plan, to submit plans for the next phase of the city’s greenbelt, to submit and adopt plans for community enhancement projects funded by the specific purpose tax and to finalize a request for qualifications for an energy efficiency study at the city.
Infrastructure was another major talking point at the retreat, with many sharing concerns on how to make improvements with a limited budget. Mayor Joe Shumway praised the city staff’s efforts to continue to maintain city services despite reduced staff and funding, saying the Council needed to keep them on the “forefront” of its priorities to maintain the level of service citizens expect.
“One thing I heard from the staff and the department heads was trouble paying their employees enough or losing their employees to other places,” said councilwoman Jessica Stalder. “To maintain the city services, do we need to look at what the incentive is to work with the city? Especially if we’re asking them to do more with less.”
The measurable milestone goals for improving and maintaining city services include increasing the city’s pavement condition index for its roads above noncritical, improving the city’s stormwater drainage by implementing and adopting a Stormwater Capital Plan and to collect data for better recruitment and retention of city employees.
City staff will create tactical plans to figure out how to accomplish the measurable milestone goals the Council created on Saturday. City Manager Janine Jordan said achieving all the goals by the end of 2019 is possible unless any unexpected projects come up later in the year.
Councilmen Charles McKinney and Paul Weaver did not attend the goal setting retreat.