Council Meeting Date: April 25, 2017
The City Council met for their Annual Goals/Retreat Meeting on Tuesday, April 25 from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. The meeting was facilitated by Nancy Hetrick from Management Partners. Nancy led the Council through the 2015-2017 Council Goals and Strategies with a discussion of accomplishments over the past two years. Here, the Council talked about the forward progress on the Town Center Project, increases in transparency (push and pull), reinvestment in the Town's infrastructure, progress on the Town's comprehensive Master Plans, opportunities for continuing education, and how well the Council works together as a collaborative team.
The Council expressed that over the last few years, the Town has done exceptionally well with "push" information - Facebook, Twitter, Next Door, Town website, email and written correspondence and publications - to increase transparency and educate the community about Town topics, projects and issues. But that the Town needs to also increase opportunities for "pull" engagement - engaging the community and drawing them out and into Town opportunities. Events and activities such as Earth Day, Art Reception, National Night Out, and others were cited as pulling the community out to engagement. The Council expressed a need to expand these opportunities noting that if the Town increases "pull" opportunities, the community will get more engaged at all levels on a consistent basis.
The Council reinforced the 6 Broad Council Goal Categories
- Goal A - Maintaining Fiscal Responsibility - maintaining a balanced budget with adequate reserves and fiscal transparency.
- Goal B - Preserving Atherton's Small Town Character and Quality of Life - maintaining a focus to identify and mitigate impacts of regional growth to the maximum extent possible.
- Goal C - Creating a Town Center - ensuring the development of the new Town Center (Library, Administration, Community Development, Police)
- Goal D - Managing Circulation and Improving Safety - providing stewardship and leadership to maintain mobility and improve accessibility and safety options for bicycles and pedestrians.
- Goal E - Strengthening Community Engagement and Transparency - pursing opportunities for increased engagement and public outreach in "push" and "pull" experiences.
- Goal F - Being a Forward-Thinking, Well-Managed, Well-Planned Town - Increasing and Maintaining Transparency, Collaboration, and Partnerships.
The current status/expectations of the strategies under each of the goals above were also discussed. These discussions included conversations around:
- contribution levels toward long-term obligations related to pension and OPEB liabilities
- ensuring adequate revenue sources and options
- continuing look at the fire services fiscal review
- funding the maintenance and improvement of Town assets (the CIP - drainage, parks, streets/roads, bridges, etc.)
- continued identification and tackling of issues in the Town's public right-of-way
- progress on bringing fiber to the community
- traffic and circulation
- mitigation and next steps to address/confront regional project impacts
- implementation of the Town's bicycle and pedestrian master plan
- movement on the Town's Quiet Zone and the opportunity for Quad Gates at Watkins
- enhancing the Town's use of technology tools for transparency and engagement
- developing a savings plan for future building assets at Town Hall as well as the Park
- identification of opportunities for the Library Fund once the new Library is complete
- regional collaboration opportunities
- expansion of the Town's community engagement opportunities
Other areas of discussion included the Town's positive relationship with the press, the general openness and approachability of the organization and staff, positive changes to the organization and service delivery, a continuing focus on the attraction and retention of quality staff and ensuring that staff have adequate training and resources to meet the changing needs of the community. The Council also discussed possible options to ensure that there are adequate resources in the Park to meet the needs of the community and how to fund those needs via venue charges and user fees. The Council discussed construction activity in Town as well as tackling the issue of AirBnB rentals that disrupt local neighborhoods.
The Council was asked to provide some focus for staff moving forward by identifying their "Top 3 or 4" items from the list of continuing priorities. Overwhelming support was expressed for the progress to date and the desire to see through to completion the new Town Center and Library as the Town's #1 priority. Beyond that, the Council expressed support for addressing regional impacts from outside development (mostly related to traffic); maintaining a firm grip on fiscal controls and transparency; and enhancing community engagement through push and pull opportunities. Others that made the list include support for staffing needs, a focus on bicycle lane improvements, moving forward with changes to the Town's business license tax, a focus on the continuing need for the parcel tax, continued implementation of the Town's Master Plans (Drainage, Park, Civic Center, and Bicycle/Pedestrian), organizing an "active shooter" exercise with local schools, and recognition that 2023 (just 6 years away) is the Town's 100th Anniversary!
A summary of the workshop will be prepared by Management Partners and distributed. The Report will be provided to the Council and made available on the Town's website.
And that, as they say, was a Wrap! Concluding at around 4:30 pm.
- if you are interested in helping plan the 100th Year Celebration for the Town, send us your contact info and once a plan of attack for this momentous occasion moves forward, we'll loop you in!
- Please join us for 2017 Atherton Arbor Day Event on Friday, April 28 at 10 am at the Park! Meet up near the Pavilion.
We will be planting trees! Wear clothes that can get dirty and we'll provide the gloves!
The Council will hold its next Study Session on May 3, 2017 at their regular meeting time of 4 pm. This meeting includes Budget Meeting #3 - a Review of the Town's Capital Improvement Project Budget. Also included on the May 3 meeting will be a presentation by a representative from the South Bay Waste Management Authority (SBWMA) on the Franchise Negotiation/Renewal Process.
Thanks for reading!
Town of Atherton