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Prioritizing Priorities: City Commissioners Rank Goals

Making sure the new Economic Development Coordinator is focused on business growth is a top priority.

City officials met Saturday for a strategic planning session. Credit: Judy Davids
City officials met Saturday for a strategic planning session. Credit: Judy Davids

A list of goals for the Royal Oak City Commission to focus on has emerged from the Jan. 18 strategic planning session.

"After a presentation of the results of the 2013 Public Opinion Study by Cobalt, and a long day of staff presentations and commission discussion, a list of objectives was formulated," wrote City Manager Don Johnson in a memo to commissioners.

Johnson surveyed commissioners asking them to rate 26 objectives on a scale of one to 10, with ten being the highest priority.

Here's how the objectives ranked in priority:

8.0: Ensure the new Economic Development Coordinator is independent of regulatory processes and focused on business growth, retention and recruitment

7.4: Complete at least one impactful project listed in the Non-motorized Plan such as the addition of bike lanes or adequate bike parking

7.1: Hire a grant coordinator to identify grant opportunities, complete grant applications, and manage reporting for awarded grants

7.1: Identify a sustainable revenue source for parks and recreation improvements and maintenance

6.7: Explore revenue options to fund road improvement and maintenance sufficient to reach target average and minimum Pavement Surface Evaluation and Ratings (PASER) to be decided by the City Commission

6.6: Improve customer service with the hiring of a community liaison to be the single point of contact for permitting processes

6.4:  Hire a Communications Director

6.4: Review and implement selected recommendations from the rodent report to control the rodent population

5.9: Hold a public forum on options for addressing unfunded liabilities as part of the Commission's budget hearings

5.6: Increase Farmers Market rental revenue by keeping the tent deployed in the northwest parking lot all summer

5.6:  Establish a Citizen Response System

5.4: Explore the sale of city owned property, potentially including underutilized parks, and dedicate proceeds to the Park Improvement Fund

5.1:  Complete "Age In Place" initial program assessment

5.1: Hire a consultant to review and make recommendations to improve the City's website on key metrics identified by staff and approved by the City Commission

5.1: Establish a modest budget to support the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts

4.7: Hire a consultant to complete a comprehensive stormwater system analysis to inform decision making regarding changes in the stormwater detention ordinance

4.6: Adopt a vacant property registration ordinance with no registration fee to identify owners of vacant property and deal with blight

4.6:  Reestablish the Trade Inspector positions as full-time

4.4: Establish a modest budget to support the Royal Oak Employee Health and Wellness Committee

4.4:  Partially restore staffing in the Engineering Department with the hiring of an Engineer III

4.4:  Partially restore staffing in the Assessor's Office with the hiring of an Appraiser III

4.4: Partially restore staffing in the Human Resources Department with the hiring of a Benefits Specialist

4.3: Retire the permanent booths at the Farmers Market to increase rental revenue, deal with rental demand and make the space more friendly to special events

4.3:  Provide additional budgetary resources for staff and commissioner training

3.9: Continue evaluation of the option to create a Wellness Center for Royal Oak employees n partnership with local communities

3.4: Adopt a commercial re-occupancy ordinance to promptly and efficiently identify and assist businesses operating in a new space

Do you agree with the City Commissions priorities? Tell us in the comments.

RELATED:

DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 08:09 AM
Growing our government-Economic Development Coordinator, grant coordinator, community liaison, communications director, consultant, another consultant, full time trade inspector, engineer, appraiser, benefits specialist. In addition, even though I can barely afford my own health insurance, I will be forced to help support a health and wellness committee for city employees. And... along with the millage for the DIA, I can now add a "modest" charge for the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts". Did I miss anything here? Any errors?
Notout Togetya January 24, 2014 at 08:29 AM
I must have missed where they said they would raise taxes to fund all of these positions, Diane. But you're right, let's not address any of the concerns that have been brought up by citizens over the past year. Let's not hire anyone to take care of critical issues facing the city. Instead, let's watch as businesses move out, vacant properties sit on Main Street and crumble without code enforcement, and your property values drop. Meanwhile, city employee medical costs will continue to rise (because why invest a little bit of money in employee health?). Sounds like a solid plan, Diane.
Debbie Campbell January 24, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Well now that RO citizens passed the dedicated “public safety” millage—Are these new positions going to be paid for with money from the general fund that formerly paid for public safety?? ---The kind of ”creative accounting” maneuver that will be digging a deeper financial hole for taxpayers to claw our way out of?
Laura Harrison January 24, 2014 at 09:08 AM
the word "hire" in some form was used nine times on this list.
Matt Turner January 24, 2014 at 09:16 AM
7.4: Complete at least one impactful project listed in the Non-motorized Plan such as the addition of bike lanes or adequate bike parking - Shouldn't road funding be a higher priority than bike lanes!!!?? 6.4: Hire a Communications Director - Seriously? Why? 5.1: Hire a consultant to review and make recommendations to improve the City's website on key metrics identified by staff and approved by the City Commission - This needs to be watched closely, I feel like someone is getting a favor. 5.1: Establish a modest budget to support the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts - We can't fund our parks, where is the money going to come from? 4.4: Establish a modest budget to support the Royal Oak Employee Health and Wellness Committee - We can't fund our parks, where is the money going to come from? 3.9: Continue evaluation of the option to create a Wellness Center for Royal Oak employees n partnership with local communities - Here's an idea, partner with Lifetime and save tax payers a bundle of money.
DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 09:40 AM
Notout-I find your comment very disturbing. Whether you want to call it a tax increase or spending taxes already collected, is irrelevant. It sounds like you and I have a basic philosophical difference of opinion. I want the government to get out of things it has no business sticking it's nose in. You seem to think government can fix these issues. When I was running for commission, one of the candidates said "no new taxes for road funding". How's that going? I don't expect to change your mind, and you certainly are not going to change mine. The issues listed by the commission as priorities are not in line with those of the citizens.
Notout Togetya January 24, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Diane - Regarding your comment about the millage, it is highly illegal for those millage dollars to be spent in any other way than voted on by the residents. I guess I'm wondering what you believe the government has a right to "stick its nose in" and who will fix these issues, if not the government? The strategic planning session was an open meeting, as are all city commission/planning/you-name-it meetings. People will complain freely on the Patch but won't attend a meeting and complain to the actual people that make the decisions (people put into office by the residents of Royal Oak...). That's what is "disturbing", Diane. And really? Disagreeing with you is "very disturbing" ? Having some trust and faith in the decisions of those supported by Royal Oak voters is "very disturbing" ? Bitter, much?
DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 12:18 PM
Notout-Like I said, different philosophy. I found your comment personally disturbing. The fact that you believe our elected officials, the same ones that have had a large hand in creating our massive debt and now choose to ignore and/or deflect the problem are going to save us boggles my mind. The government is charged with the task of doing for us that which we can not reasonably do for ourselves. That does not include conducting useless surveys, deciding that I should be responsible for art in Royal Oak, etc., etc. If I am bitter, it is because sheep such as yourself believe they have the right to dictate the terms by which I live.
DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Notout-In addition, I ran for city commission because I do care. I watch the meetings and write my letters. I lost the election by a small margin, so obviously there are other citizens who are as concerned as I am. I'm OK with losing. I probably would have made a crappy politician. I'm too straight forward and do not excel at sucking up to the right people. I do apologize for the sheep comment. Not because I don't believe it, but because there are some things that don't need to be posted.
Notout Togetya January 24, 2014 at 01:01 PM
Diane - I completely respect the fact that you ran for city commission. It takes a lot of guts. I know you understand that most of the city's debt has been created through commitments made 20-30 years ago that we now have to pay for. The city made massive cuts to personnel costs in 2005 (layoffs and pay cuts). Royal Oak is actually one of the most financially stable communities in Michigan (I've used munetrix.com in past studies for school, their fiscal database is huge). Any suggestions on how the city should be collecting information from residents, if not through a survey? Have you heard negative things about the art in Royal Oak? Very sorry that you feel that the residents of Royal Oak are "sheep" (Royal Oak has one of the highest concentrations of residents with Bachelors degrees or higher) and can't think for themselves.
DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 01:44 PM
Notout- I did not call the residents of Royal Oak sheep. That reference was made to your comment specifically. There are many good and intelligent people in our city. If I didn't believe that, I certainly would not have expended the energy necessary to run for city commission. Our unfunded liability debt is continuing to grow. This is debt we have from the past and debt we are continually adding to. And I'm all for art, but I don't think it should be one of those things everyone is forced to pay for. I support the humane society and believe it serves a very important function, but I don't think everyone else should have to support it. It should be a choice. As far as surveys go, I think they are useless. We have had too many of them and the miniscule number of responses cannot accurately reflect the views of our entire city. Royal Oak already has a website capable of accepting comments from those who wish to communicate their needs and opinions. I believe this is a much better source from which to derive pertinent information. And, it won't cost an additional 12-15,000 per year.
Notout Togetya January 24, 2014 at 04:22 PM
Diane - I apologize if my defense of government workers makes me a sheep...or a dictator, because apparently I "dictate" the way you live. I agree that the city should utilize the website more - that will cost some money, although nowhere near what they spent on the survey. The intentions of the survey were to find out what the residents value (what the city should focus on). Perhaps they are going about it the wrong way, so why not offer some alternative, cost-effective solutions? There's always a ton of "don't do this!" but hardly any "do this instead".
DianeKH January 24, 2014 at 05:14 PM
Notout-I believe my "do this instead" was recommending we put more emphasis on the website. Want more? How about sending out comment forms with our water or tax bills. After all, everyone gets them. I'm talking about simple, one page docs that residents can voice whatever is on their mind. Costs would be low and I'd be willing to be part of a volunteer committee that reads any comments coming in. Now, what else do you think I should do? I ran for city commission with honest intentions. I've made many suggestions. And I'll tell you Notout togetme , you sound a lot like one of our commissioners. It would be nice if people making comments disclosed who they were and what stake, if any, they have in all of these issues.
Laura Harrison January 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Royal Oak already has a wellness center. Its called the Y and it is within walking distance of city hall.
l.c. February 06, 2014 at 04:35 PM
more bikes= less cars / which would you rather have? less cars,SUV's would cause less damage to the roads & save $$$ & less pollution.no brainer unless your a couch potato.

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