Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Editorial ~ Strategic Plan vs. General Plan

FROM THE TOWN DOCKET: January 11-12. Strategic Leadership Plan update – Town Council Strategic Planning Retreat will identify budget priorities for the next two fiscal years.

The Strategic Plan. This plan is updated every two years via collaboration between the Town Council and senior management staff. The plan is then written by the town staff.

The General Plan. This plan is updated every 10 years with focused community input. It is then sent to the voters for approval. It states their priorities. The current General Plan (Your Voice, Our Future) was approved by the voters in November 2016.

In December, we asked Town Manager Mary Jacobs why she felt it important that the town council and staff engage in this strategic planning exercise. One reason she mentioned was that the 2016 General Plan was out-of-date. We disagree. Creating the General Plan was a massive effort. The Town spent 3 years, thousands of staff hours, and more than $300,000 on this effort. Hundreds of everyday residents were involved.

What we do recognize, however, is that there are certain strategic issues that were not considered during the planning process. LOVE has discussed three of these issues: (1) The closing of brick and mortar stores and the potential impact on sales tax revenues; (2) The strategic implications of CAP water restrictions on Oro Valley’s water plans; and (3) Whether Oro Valley should use its precious water resources to annex more residential, water using, areas. Thus, we do agree that a strategic discussion is appropriate at this time.

What follows is a direct quote from the December 2018 Town Manager’s Executive Report regarding the Strategic Plan sessions.

“Staff will be preparing background information for you to review prior to the session as well. The final plan will provide me and my team with your expected priorities and outcomes to be accomplished over the coming two fiscal years, and will help inform our deliberations as we prepare the FY 19/20 budget in the spring.”

There are two areas of concern:

(1) Staff will be controlling the information since they will be providing the Town Council the information for their review.  The problem with this is that it's in the staff's self-interest to grow Oro Valley in order to create work for themselves and guarantee their long-term job security.

(2) The General Plan is only two years old. It is not out-dated. It is a document that was compiled after 3 years of gathering input from the citizens and it advises the Town Council of the citizens expected priorities and outcomes.

The Town Council needs to guard themselves against allowing this Strategic Plan exercise to get in the way of the General Plan. One of the platforms during the campaigns of Winfield, Barrett, Jones-Ivey, and Nicolson was adherence to the General Plan. If the purpose of the Strategic Plan is to advise the Town staff what the Town Council’s priorities will be for the next two fiscal years…it is imperative that those priorities should not be in conflict with the General Plan.
What do YOU think the Town Council should focus on for the next two years? What are your priorities? You may email your suggestions to Patrick@gettingbetterallthetime.com in order to have your comments included during the Town Council’s Strategic Planning Meeting on January 11-12. (Patrick Ibarra is a consultant from Glendale who facilitated the December 18th town meeting to gather community input on the Strategic Plan).