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Planning session identifies six areas for improvement

Jan. 25, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2013 at 7:25 p.m.

Victoria city councilmembers outlined their vision and goals for the city during a planning meeting Friday morning at the University of Houston-Victoria. Each department head also attended to give input.

Victoria City Council took a step toward the future with a four-hour planning session Friday morning.

Richard Lewis, a professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and UTSA professor JoAnne Ford-Robertson moderated the informal meeting hosted at the University of Houston-Victoria.

"What we're trying to do today is create this strategic ability to systematically move at what we want to do long-term," Lewis said at the beginning of the meeting. "Anything we develop today should be a guide and should be flexible."

With the help of the 15 department heads, the city manager and the assistant city manager, the council identified six key areas to improve and focus on from a list of 18 members created.

Councilman Joe Truman was absent.

The list included developing more water sources, building historical and sports tourism, improving infrastructure replacement, staff retention, increasing the tax base and improving public trust.

Mayor Will Armstrong said he appreciated the opportunity to meet informally under an agenda that allowed complete freedom to discuss multiple topics involving the city.

"They are so diversified that I will not put one above the other," Armstrong said. "We have a plan for increasing communication and accountability with council and staff."

The plan is to have Lewis back for a follow-up meeting in April once the capital improvement project workshop is complete, an action plan on tourism has been assessed and a financial analysis of the city's new businesses is analyzed.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett said there were no surprises in the goals or priorities identified Friday.

"I think it's good for city staff to have their priorities for goals," she said.

It gives the city staff direction of where to go, she said. When the budget workshops begin this summer, the list of priorities will also help in the budgeting process, she said.

In addition to goal-setting, the council also revised its mission statement, which had not been updated since 1998, Garrett said.

Lewis said Friday was the first step in accomplishing the city's goals.

"Philosophically, it's important to refocus the policy aspects of municipal government and look toward future goals," Lewis said.

He leads about 15 to 20 sessions annually across Texas and the southwestern states where governments are set up like Victoria's - the city council develops policy, and the staff implements it.

"For this group, their visioning and re-articulation of broad city goals was very timely and will benefit the livability aspect of Victoria and Victoria County," Lewis said.

Councilman Emett Alvarez said he had been looking forward to the meeting and discussion.

"It was an opportunity, as a freshman councilman, to participate in goal setting," he said.



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