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Village Council sets goals for 2014

Hiring a new Village manager, completing a water sourcing analysis and physically updating Council chambers head the list of 2014 Village Council strategic goals, according to a prioritized list reviewed by Council members at their Feb. 18 meeting. The list includes 20 goals that have been suggested by Council members this year, along with a proposed time frame and those responsible for completing the goal.

Council will vote on the 2014 goals at its March 3 meeting.

Council President Karen Wintrow drew up the list with an eye toward balancing concerns of Council members Lori Askeland and Marianne MacQueen, as stated in previous goal discussions. Askeland, mindful that the Village has, or will have, a considerable number of new employees, asked that new hires not be asked to take on too much in a transition time. However, MacQueen stated that Council shouldn’t identify goals if it doesn’t plan to pursue them.

The solution seems to be giving Council members more responsibility in achieving the goals, Wintrow said.

“If Council members could take a stronger role, they can help these move forward,” she said.

Each goal is linked to one of Village Council’s six overarching “values,” which are: deepening democratic decision-making processes with active citizen participation and effective representative governance; being an excellent employer and provider of services within a responsible fiscal framework; pursuing a strong economy that provides diverse employment, a stable tax base and supports the values of the community; providing careful and creative stewardship of land resources; seeking to reduce the Village’s carbon footprint; and being a welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse races, ages, sexual orientations, abilities and incomes.

Updating Council chambers, proposed by Council member Gerry Simms, will address “improving audio and video experience for meeting attendees as well as cable and Internet viewers,” according to the list, and fits under the value of deepening the democratic process. Simms stated at an earlier meeting that the cost for the changes, which includes purchasing new audio and video equipment, is not yet clear, and estimates ranged from $3,000 to $30,000. Also included under the democratic process value is updating the Village website and social media, with Council member Brian Housh responsible.

The strategic goals also include to “support in a timely and efficient manner, the work at the CBE,” under the value of pursuing a strong economy. Other strategic goals linked to the economy are to create a “sustainable economic development strategy to support existing businesses, entrepreneurs and home occupations and attract new opportunities,” for which MacQueen and Wintrow are identified as responsible parties.

Other 2014 goals include reviewing and implementing a multiyear plan for sidewalk improvements; developing energy efficientcy policies and incentives for the CBE and other projects with public funding; determining best uses for publicly owned property, especially the Glass Farm and 104 Dayton St.; expanding the parks department to provide more support for youth programming; collaborating on a housing needs assessment; utilizing the Village Mediation program for help on how to deal with “hot” community topics;” seeking advice from the Energy Board regarding ways to increase energy efficienty at Village facilities; increasing the effectiveness of community deliberations by Council; and developing a feedback system to monitor effective police performance. The complete list is available in the Feb. 18 Council packet online at www.yso.com.

In other Council business:

• Interim Manager Kent Bristol reported that there will be additional delay in the Village water sourcing discussion since Springfield needs to update its figures on what that city would charge the Village to purchase water. The update is necessary because Village staff realized that the previous water needs communicated to Springfield were too high, and the cost therefore needs to be adjusted.

Bristol estimated that the new figures should come in within a few weeks.

• Council members discussed the need for a water rate increase, due to growing deficit spending in the water fund. Council will vote on a proposed 15 percent increase at its March 3 meeting.

While in 2010 Council adapted a schedule of gradual increases in water rates, that schedule has proved insufficient to provide needed revenues, Bristol said. While a 3 percent increase in rates was already planned for April 1 of this year, Council members agreed that a larger hike is necessary, and agreed on 15 percent. Consulting engineer John Eastman reminded villagers that the increase will affect only the water component on their monthly utility bill, not the whole bill.

• Linda Rudawski and Colin Arment of the Human Relations Commission, or HRC, gave that group’s annual report.

“There’s a lot of passion and a lot of desire to address the needs of the community,” Rudawski said of the group, which has several new members. This year the group aims to continue many longtime traditions, such as the annual block parties, while adding a new series of events around increasing awareness of, and resources for, mental illness in the community.

• Village Treasurer Rachel McKinley reported that the Village currently has an average balance of about $6 million in a variety of US Bank investment strategies, which is about half of the Village’s $12 million overall budget.

• Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, March 3, in Council chambers.

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