Deputy county manager Cal Markert said the strategic plan he presented to county commissioners at their committee meeting Tuesday morning is a roadmap for the county.
“It also sets clear direction for the county as a whole,” Markert said after presenting the 25-page document. “It sets clear direction for each department. Each department has created their own plan that supports this master plan.”
Accountability is key, he said. The strategic plan includes a system for residents and employees to grade their experiences, and it includes a system to map damage to roads, so the county can address the worst roads first.
“Everything we’re doing, we’re trying to measure and track so that we can get better,” Markert said. “This is a little bit of a change in the way we do business and it’s going to be difficult because we’re gonna fail. But hopefully the people will appreciate honesty and effort and learning from mistakes.”
Jefferson County’s strategic plan spans five years but allows for adjustments. “We may have something happen … so we’re gonna adjust each year,” Markert said. “But at least we’re looking and planning every year for a five-year window.”
“We’re looking at things in a longer term. Instead of just what’s right now, we’re trying to look five years down the road so that we can be better prepared and more efficient and not just reactive,” he said.
A major component of the strategic plan is working toward a five-year capital improvement plan, which Market said already had been established. That capital plan addresses how the county can maintain growth, including where it should target projects, such as industries.
Commissioners and county manager Tony Petelos proposed establishing the strategic plan, which the county had not had before.
The strategic plan, which includes an online component, includes systems to allow county residents to grade the service they receive from the county and allows county employees to grade their experiences, as well.
“The citizens, we want to hear from them,” Markert said. “And then the employees, we want to hear from them. We want to learn and find out what we can get better at. We need to deal with reality and kind of get outside of our box and go ask the difficult questions and be ready to accept the challenge.”
Markert’s presentation included a system the county hopes to use to measure the quality of its roads, so that the roads with the greatest need get attention first. Commissioner Joe Knight recalled having heard about that system nearly two years ago.
Markert said a lack of personnel had delayed that effort, but county staffers have now created a tool that automatically maps roads, noting the number of potholes and measuring the number of cracks.
“It’s a high level of technology and Commissioner Knight, rightfully so, really wants to make sure we’re doing the worst first,” Markert said. “That’s exactly where he’s coming from. I agree. It’s just been frustrating because we’re still understaffed (but) we’re getting to that point. Nobody wants it more than I do.
“But it is running now and it is working and we’re super excited to have that,” he continued. “It’s going to be a tremendous tool to give the commission feedback and accurate information for them to be able to make decisions.”
Economic Development Meeting
The committee meeting included an announcement that development Chair Steve Ammons and co-Chair Lashunda Scales will host an economic development meeting at 9 a.m. Oct. 13.
“It’s just an annual update,” Ammons said later. “That’s why we’re bringing in our partners with … (the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority), BBA and Commerce just to talk about it overall and as a reminder of what economic development is for the county.”
Ammons said the meeting will feature some project updates and some decisions commissioners need to make on bigger projects down the road.
He said an executive session may follow Tuesday’s meeting.
“There’re some projects that I need to update the commission on that I signed NDA (non-disclosure agreements) for,” he said. “And there’s a potential purchase or sale of property that we’ll probably need to discuss as well. That would require us to go into executive session.”