Tuesday, March 18, 2014

City Council Meeting and Work Session 4-Mar-2014

Highland LogoThere were two items that were discussed at length in council meeting. The first was the minutes from the previous work session. Brian Braithwaite made the commend that the minutes should more accurately reflect the conversation so that someone in the future did not read them and incorrectly interpret the discussion. He offered a couple of points to clarify portions of the discussion. I agreed and did the rest of the council with his comments.

Tim Irwin wanted to reopen the Open Space set back issue at the next council meeting and Dennis LeBaron seconded the idea. I do support a discussion of set backs in general but oppose an exception for one family when there are workable alternatives for the household initiating the request.

According to Nathan this is the 1st request in 3 years for a change in open space set backs. Note, we have since received the minutes from the council meeting when the last change to open space set backs were approved (June 22,2010). It seems that the discussion was quite thorough and I have no issues with the final outcome. It will be interesting to hear the rationale for making additional changes. My mind isn’t closed on the issue.

The goal work session was much more productive than the previous meeting. We had good agenda and I thought an comment by the mayor on what he thought the overall mission of the staff and council should be was quite good. Here is a rough approximation:

Our objectives should be maintaining City services within the budgetary constraints of the City. Emphasize continual improvement, customer service, team work, empowerment of employees, and measuring success. Be sensitive to the ever changing needs of our citizens, employees, businesses and our neighbors. Exercise prudent community planning through maintaining Capital Facilities Plans, Master Plans, fee schedules, and the Municipal Code.

We need to budget to adequately meet the needs of the community and its employees to allow the City to fully meet its own responsibilities. Be supportive and respectful to those hard working employees who are on the front line representing the City.

Our long term goals should be to:

  • Be financially and fiscally prudent; be good stewards of all the resources entrusted to the City in whatever form
  • Be cognoscente of all the responsibilities of the City, including but not limited to, financial, quality of life, governance, safety, and life maintenance duties.
  • Maintain a general fund balance of whatever the Council would like to set to allow for emergency appropriations, budgetary adjustments, and unexpected events.
  • Balance budgets annually.
  • Implement strategic planning to care for not only current needs, but also future needs.
  • Retire debt service obligations whenever possible to allow a more flexible budgeting process.

We thereafter reviewed the following major areas and discussed the goals noted below. These are not yet cast in concrete.


  1. Roads
    • Five Year Maintenance Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 to be completed by end of April. Should include budgetary numbers
    • Capital Improvements Plan. Target date is end of September.
    • Prioritize and communicate needs to residents for fiscal Year 2015-2016
  2. Parks & Open Space

    The council would like to review the inventory of existing parks and land designated for parks before setting any formal goals. Questions to be answered include: Are Open Space fees in line with expenses?

  3. Economic Development
    • Jessie Schoenfeld to work with local businesses to see if there is any interest in starting a Highland City Chamber of Commerce.
    • Create an ADHOC advisory committee from members of the community.
    • Create a city direction and/or brand
  4. Resident Involvement & Communications
    • Website: Ensure information is up to date, organize and assign an “owner”, refresh the look.
    • Surveys/Polls: City newsletter could direct the residents every month to go to the website and vote on city issues.
    • Cleanup Days: This can be a unifying issue. We can do a better job promoting and organizing the event.
  5. Organization
    • Days of operation: Some residents would prefer that the city offices be opened 5 days a week. We should research this more..
    • Metrics: We discussed creating metrics for the various services the city offers so that we can gauge performance and work on improvements..
    • Staff / Council Relations: Discussed working in improving the relationship between staff and council.

Please feel free to make suggestions in any of these areas, via comments on this post, email, or phone.

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