By Pam Zubeck, (Colorado Springs Independent)
Making an overview plan can set the course for a business, individual or even a government.
Which is why the city charter requires city council to adopt a strategic plan.
On June 10, council briefly discussed the newest plan, which will guide the city from 2020 to 2024.
The plan has these four primary goals:
• Regional collaboration
• Safe and resilient communities
• PlanCOS (The city’s comprehensive plan)
Councilor Jill Gaebler praised the draft version of the plan, noting that getting to this point worked better than last year, notably because a specific committee comprised of several council members and staff met several times since January.
“The charter clearly states the council is supposed to create a strategic plan for the future of the city,” she said during the work session. “I think this plan is really good.”
Councilor Bill Murray took issue with the plan failing to include a better way of communicating with the executive branch (i.e., the mayor), to prevent the council from being blindsided with a topic for which it’s not been given adequate information.
“The overarching concern I’ve always had is, we need a more strategic viewpoint of how we communicate with the executive branch to help us make better and more informed decisions,” he said.
Councilor Tom Strand questioned whether the plan has “measurables.” For example, one regional collaboration goal is to increase coordination between the city and Colorado Springs Utilities, but there’s no quantifiable measuring stick with which to mark success or failure, he noted.
Here’s another one that nobody mentioned, but seems to fall into the category of Strand’s concern. Under the heading of safe and resilient communities, there’s no mention of police or fire by name. Rather, it states: “Support Public Safety initiatives through funding and the annual budget process.”
It’s worth noting that the Springs Police Department has reported sluggish response times to the highest priority calls for years, at around 12 to 13 minutes. The department is also having difficulty keeping the ranks filled, much less adding officers on the streets.
Moreover, the Fire Department’s responses haven’t been as speedy as its own standards require.
Strand’s concern also might apply to this goal: “Increase public awareness and encourage legislation that proactively supports issues of affordable housing and homelessness.”
In any event, the strategic plan will see more discussion on June 25 when council plans to apply its stamp of approval.
1. Regional Collaboration Partner with local governments and regional agencies in order to share share knowledge and increase efficiencies in the Pikes Peak Region
a. Conduct an annual meeting with County Commissioners, and quarterly meetings between City Council and County Commissioner leadership
b. Increase coordination between the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities including public Works and Streets projects
c. Engage with military installations through community opportunities such as Military Affairs Council with the Chamber of Commerce and establish a Council Member as the military affairs liaison
d. Organize an annual meet and greet program with regional municipal partners including Manitou, Fountain, Pueblo, Monument, etc.
2. Communication (Increase communication with constituents at all levels of interaction in order to promote a culture of civic engagement)
a. Develop a Constituent Response Specialist position to increase responsiveness and consistency in public messaging
b. Increase methods of communication to constituents through opportunities such as town halls, email announcements, social media messaging, etc.
c. Develop a Civics 101 training for new City employees to explain the role of City Council, the legislative process and methods of civic engagement
d. Increase the value of Boards and Commissions with an emphasis on action items and reporting requirements to City Council
3. Safe and Resilient Communities (Identify legislative opportunities to enhance long range objectives with meaningful impacts)
a. Support the City’s financial resiliency through work with Executive staff to develop a budgetary resiliency plan and associated metrics
b. Support Public Safety initiatives through funding and the annual budget process
c. Encourage connectivity across the city through innovative approaches to transportation solutions
d. Increase public awareness and encourage legislation that proactively supports issues of affordable housing and homelessness e. Increase public awareness and support around issues of the Urban Tree Canopy and Wildland Urban Interface
4. Plan COS (Facilitate the implementation of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, PlanCOS)
a. Support hiring of a Planning and Land Use consultant to review and provide recommendations on City Code Chapter 7
b. Actively participate in thoughtful discussion and drafting of legislation related to ADU’s and STR’s [accessory dwelling unit and short-term rentals]
c. Incentivize developers to build in underserved areas of Colorado springs, such as the Southeast, and support general infill policies and programs through development of URA criteria
d. Work with the Planning Department to develop a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the processes of Special Districts, including GIS map visualizations and debt issuance overview