Dear Readers,

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where there is a serious conversation going on – half obscure bureaucratic jargon, half childishly simple statements – and everyone else in the room thinks it is gravely important, but you can’t figure out why?

Oh, wait, that’s not a nightmare, that was the city council discussing its “Strategic Plan and Council Priorities.” last Monday night, Jan. 5, 2009.
Yes, the council is BACK. And what a dreary beginning for the new year.

First the council had the sad task of honoring the recently departed Belle Ziegler, a pillar of the community. She was a city resident since 1956, director of the city recreation department from 1967 to 1990, and organizer of the annual Independence Day parade and fireworks.

Then the council turned to its priorities and strategic plan – despite the scorn Your Gilbert expressed when this first came up last fall.

As we said then, ” The point of all this appears to be that the city manager’s budget for 2009 includes $35,000 “to retain a consultant to facilitate a community-wide strategic planning process,” quoting from the Sept. 2 agenda. So, this exercise in identifying priorities seems to be a set up for the hiring of a consultant to tell the city what it wants. (and what it probably already knows).”

This made the Jan. 5th discussion narrowing down the draft document’s definition of the city’s “core services” all the more ironic. This is a far from a core service as the council could get. Given the severe recession, certain budget cuts, and a local tax rate based on pre-real estate crash property values this looks to Your Gilbert like even more of a waste of time and money than it did last September.

– Your Gilbert
PS. Hey! How about the New Look for the blog? Spiffy, eh? Thanks to the Takoma Voice for the improvements and the support!.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

4 Comments on "Nightmare"

  1. Reuben Snipper | January 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm |

    First, in my opinion, the new “look” is terrible — hard to read, too.

    Second, the Strategic Plan is boring, but when done it will guide the Council’s actions much more than the previous list of priorities ever did. Many cities have them and find they make long range planning much better.

    Finally, Takoma Park has been very fiscally responsible, so we will be less affected by the recession than other jurisdictions.

  2. I guess that Reuben is introducing a whole new dimension to the concept of “fiscally responsible”, what with the highest tax rate in any municipality in MontCo, with services that overall do not seem to be justified by it (as compared to non-incorporated areas, increases in debt (including for street maintenance) etc…
    By the way, should not that alleged “fiscal responsibility include the review of the operations of all city departments as proposed by Bruce Williams when he was running (successfully) for Mayor? After a preliminary try in July 2008 on the Rec Dpt (way past the approval of the 2009 budget) we have seen very little further movement by the Council on that issue. Scared by what they found?
    I guess it is easier to claim fiscal responsibility than to actually work for it. We will see how far this responsibility goes later this spring when the Council votes on the 2010 budget!

  3. Seth Grimes | January 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm |

    Reuben, the City of Takoma Park will be less affected by the recession than other jurisdictions because the vast majority of revenues come from property taxes. Despite the downturn in the housing market, due to the rapid rise in housing values over the last few year and the cap on yearly taxable-assessment increases, taxable assessments are still rising rapidly.
    That is, there’s no shortage of money, hence no need to slash spending.

  4. Keith Berner | January 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm |

    All enterprises run better when they have good strategic plans to measure their objectives and performance against. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this strategic plan will be good — the proof will be in the pudding.

Comments are closed.