This weekend, the Ashland City Council will meet to set goals for 2011 and 2012. The City Council goals are the backbone of much of the work that the City does. In the first place, the goals convey to the citizens and departments the Council’s sense of the work that the City needs to do ensure that Ashland remains a healthy and vibrant community. Secondly, the goals define the major projects that the City will work on. This translates into the budget, into staff work plans, and into the public meetings that the City has in the coming two years. Third and maybe most importantly, the Council goals bring the seven people who are elected together to define a shared agenda. I can tell you from past experience that not every Councilor supports every single goal. However, all Councilors support the need for a collective agenda to ensure that their time, the community’s time, the limited taxes, fees, and charges, and the City’s staff are working towards a set of clear priorities.
Goal setting is usually one of the least “exciting” of the Council’s meetings. Although many of the goals are related to issues that are controversial , Councilors can usually agree that the City needs to work on them. So, although there is often a disagreement once a project or policy is being debated by the Council, there is usually a strong consensus that a given project – whether transportation planning or fiscal stability – needs to be debated. The best thing about goal setting is that it takes place outside of the “regular” work of the Council, so Councilors are able to reflect on how the work they will do in the next two years relates to the “big” picture of their vision for Ashland.
Like most meetings of the Council, goal setting is open to the public. This year, the Council will meet on January 15, 2011 on the meeting room on the 1st floor of the Plaza Inn and Suites, which is at the corner of Helman and Central in downtown Ashland. We’ll report next week on the results, and Council will finalize and formally adopt these goals soon so their work plan guides the upcoming budget process.
All the best,