"In one word, my opinion of the state of the city government is 'stable'," Watkins said. "We're where we expected to be."
(Please note: all files are in PDF format.)
- Retreat Agenda and Goals
- Session I — Personnel Costs and Issues
- Session II — Public Safety Issues
- Session III — Vision, Mission, Core Values
- Session IV — Surveying to Assist in Priority Development
- Session V — Parks Master Plan/Sales Tax Extension
- Session VI — Vision Implementation/Infrastructure Financing
- Session VII — Economic Development
- Session VIII — Budget Priorities
- Session IX - Open Council Discussion (No supporting documents)
- Session X — Transit, Stormwater, Airport, Railroad
- Session XI — Evaluation and Take Aways
The speech is a prelude to the City Council's yearly retreat, where members discuss policy issues and establish plans and budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This year's retreat will take place at the Country Club Hotel in Lake Ozark. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and ends around midday Saturday.
The meeting is public, and Watkins encouraged residents to attend.
Although Watkins said "budgeting is likely to remain a zero-sum game" for the next few years, he cited "new partnerships, outside funding sources and internal reorganization" as ways to extend the existing city government budget.
Watkins' commitment to excellence will be a challenge given the grim budget forecasts provided to the City Council at last month's miniretreat. Those projections show the city reserve fund will be depleted to less than 5 percent of the annual general fund budget by 2013 unless significant cuts are made. Proposed spending reductions of $1.75 million per year for the next two years and $675,000 in 2013 would allow the general fund to remain more than 16 percent of the budget.
Following his opening statements, Watkins identified several core service areas in which the city is seeking to "attain excellence." He said public safety (police, fire, and joint communications), city utilities, job creation, bus and air service and the park system all will be discussed at length during the upcoming retreat.
Watkins emphasized the importance of attaining "excellence" several times as part of the city's goal to apply for, and receive, the Missouri Quality Award and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Both awards recognize outstanding leadership and reward exceptional organizational management systems.
Specific initiatives that will come under discussion at the retreat include:
- Relocating joint communications' radio systems to "narrowband" channels by January 2013 to comply with an FCC mandate.
- Updating public safety records systems to make them easily searchable and geographically relevant.
- Filling four firefighter positions left vacant in this year's budget.
- Determining the location for a proposed 10th fire station.
- Revising the sewer rate policy and increasing sewer rates substantially.
- Overhauling storm-water regulations and developing new rate structures to bring more revenue to the utility.
- Creating shovel-ready certified industrial sites to attract new businesses.
- Moving Regional Economic Development Inc. to the new downtown parking garage.
- Overhauling the existing transit system and potentially adding another bus route to ease pressure on the orange line.
- Improving service and capacity at Columbia Regional Airport.
- Renewing the one-eighth cent sales tax to support the public park system.