Noting progress in their key goals from last year, Great Bend City Council members Monday night honed in on their targets for the upcoming 2016 budget year.
“We’ve made great strides,” Councilman Wayne Henneke said. By setting goals, he said the council and city personnel can better zero in on areas that need improvement.
The goals session was basically a brain-storming session. On the top of council members’ minds were street improvements, expansion and more marketing of the Sports Complex, the Events Center, wages for city employees and the continued “war on drugs.”
With these at the top of the list, City Administrator Howard Partington said he would compile a report of the suggestions made for presentation to the council for official action at a later date.
Monday’s informal meeting was the third step in the city’s budget-planning process. First were the council’s tour of facilities June 12 and other-agencies presentations June 15. Next will be the budget work session, 6 p.m., July 15; and the budget hearing, 7 p.m. Aug. 17.
In offering up possible goals for 2016, Partington said administrators looked at what was listed last year and started from there. “We felt as a staff we made considerable progress on the goals set last year.”
The top three from last year included drug crime reduction and making Great Bend safer, new housing and the demolition of dilapidated structures, and a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau that is was more responsive to the city. So far:
• The Police Department as added a new drug dog and formed a warrant task force. However, “we still have a ways to go,” Partington said, adding that this will continue in the 2016 agenda.
• A new 48-unit apartment complex is nearly completed and new homes are going up in Amber Meadows, and the city’s new Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker is cracking down on run-down properties.
• The CVB is moving to the city-owned Events Center and the staff will become city employees.
“This shows a success when you pinpoint specific goals,” Partington said.
Among the other suggestions made by council members were revitalizing downtown, adding an extra police detective or two, more public art, emphasizing recreational opportunities at Stone Lake and other parks, and better marketing and promotion of the city.
In addition, the city’s staff had goals of their own. These fell into three categories with three points under each.
Continue strong economic and community development efforts
• Support for current housing projects and encourage future development
• Support and show appreciation for local businesses and industries
• Attraction of new businesses, industries, retail, and entertainment
Continue to improve image and attitude
• Market and promote our community
• Encourage and enhance events, festivals and activities and attract more hotel guests
Continue code enforcement, demolitions, and clean up efforts
Budget and financial management
• Continue infrastructure improvements
• Transfer to and build funds for capital projects/improvements
• Evaluate costs and benefits of services provided by outside agencies