Planning session held

WC?City Council establishes city goals for 2018

Jeff Schott, Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa, led a goal-setting session last week with the City Council of Webster City. City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez was present along with a number of other city staff and department heads.

A preliminary session with department heads was conducted by the IPA on Dec. 14, 2017.

“Having a facilitator like Jeff Schott helps organize and facilitate the council and myself identify those issues and opportunities and identify the goals that the council is thinking of,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

The goal session serves as a guide or ‘road map’ to help the council navigate the direction the city is headed in the coming years.

“Part of the goal setting session is to layout out some of the groundwork of what are some of the issues, some of the opportunities, and some of the things that as a council, they would like to see the city move forward with or endeavor on,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

With Schott’s assistance, the council came up with a draft of the goals the city hopes to achieve in the next 24 months.

New goals

Some new goals the council hopes to work on in the next 24 months include identifying and developing plan for implementation, financing and marketing of amenities to attract new residents and keep current ones in Webster City, including:

n More bike trails to Kendall Young Park and around town

n Camping at Kendall Young Park

n Develop plan for funding the completion of Second Street (mile-long stretch from the corner of Broadway and Second Street to the train overpass/ county building)

n Adopt ordinance/conduct commercial occupancy inspections annually

n Develop a plan to increase staffing, including fire and police

“There is a lot of discussion or at least a lot of thoughts of what the activity going on with Prestage and their plans for the region. VeroBlue as well,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “The big kicker is the existing industries and businesses in Webster City and the need for workforce. There were quite a few priorities that centered around those concepts.”

With the need for more employees in the area, Ortiz-Hernandez noted the importance of finding ways to market Webster City to Iowa and the Midwest. In order to draw more people to Webster City, the City hopes to improve and market the amenities offered locally.

“We really looked at broadly considering the amenities that appeal to families. That appeal to people when they are looking at places to move or as a way of further encouraging people to live in Webster City over other communities,” Ortiz-Hernandez said.

Accomplishments

Over the past two years, the city has already accomplished prior goals set concerning the budget, economic development, infrastructure, city operations/facilities, housing/code enforcement, parks and recreation, and public safety.

Budget: The electric rates study was completed with modifications to the current code, rate increase for electric to cover increased purchase costs as well at automatic 1% each year, and continued strong audit results year to year.

Economic development: The Beam building was sold to VeroBlue, the City bought property from the hospital at the corner of Des Moines and Ohio Street, Van Diest Medical Family Clinic, and the USDA Rural Development Loan for Mary Ann Specialty Foods was finalized.

Infrastructure: Completion of the James Street road project, James Street water main replacement project, completion of the Lyons Creek Pedestrian Bridge, East Second Street project (road, sidewalk and trail), Superior Street sidewalk, planning for future Waste Water Treatment site, and storm sewer project on Millards Lane.

City operations: hiring multiple city positions including new city manager, community vitality director, fire chief, dispatcher, building inspector, and three police officers; improved employee morale, technology updates at City Hall, Council Chamber improvements, wetland project, Youth Advisory Commission established, new fireworks policy, new generator for City Hall, and upgraded security camera system.

Housing/Code enforcement: Completion of Brewer Creek Estates 5th and 6th Additions (52 lots available) with trail; demolition of nine dwellings, eight accessory buildings, three commercial and eight pending; active code enforcement; Four houses completed with the CDBG Housing Rehab Program; and the city acquired unsafe properties at 1203 Second St. and 1118 John St.

Parks and recreation: Addition of trail connection to Brewer Creek Trail from Brewer Creek 6th addition; new playground equipment at Lions Stafford Park, and Boone River walk trail repair.

Public Safety: Fire Chief finished third year of NFA Executive Officer training; Fire department created several operational standard operating procedures and an incident command structure; the WCFD had four promotions, new pagers for the WCFD, live training fires, updated software at firehouse, and the police department’s implementation of body cameras.

According to a draft of the work session discussion, Schott was “very impressed by the level of leadership and teamwork exhibited by the participants in the session.”

Schott noted that the priority of the projects and initiatives can be modified as new circumstances may occur.

Schott recommended that city staff prepare an action plan for accomplishing the planning goals. The action plan would define the steps that would be needed to accomplish each goal, identify who is responsible for implementation, and establish a timeline for accomplishment. The action plan will be presented to the mayor and city council for review and approval. According to Ortiz-Hernandez, the council may look at this as early as the next month.

Schott was paid about $3,400 for fees associated with both sessions as well as mileage.

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