Columbia officials' retreat to gauge progress on improving city services

Thursday, June 6, 2013 | 7:19 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A year after setting a series of goals for improving city services, Columbia officials will review their progress during a two-day annual retreat.

During their retreat last June, city department heads and members of the Columbia City Council outlined seven "strategic priorities" for city services and development. They included:

  • Customer-focused government.
  • Economic development.
  • Financial health.
  • Growth management.
  • Health, safety and well-being.
  • Infrastructure.
  • Work force.

Those priorities were presented as part of a three-year strategic plan released in September, along with more specific initiatives and goals designed to help them address those priorities. This year's retreat offers a chance to gauge progress.

The facilitator of the retreat is Carolyn Sullivan of New Chapter Coaching, a consulting company that helps organizations "create positive sustainable change in their businesses and lives."

Toni Messina, Columbia'sdirector of public communications, said Sullivan was hired to facilitate last year's retreat based on her work with other organizations. Her primary role is to manage "discussion traffic" among city officials to help clarify their goals.

"She's helping us discuss in a way that helps us reach answers for what we need to do," Messina said.

The first day of the retreat also will include the results of this year's community survey, mailed to a random sample of Columbia residents in April.

The city received 811 responses to the survey, which included a variety of questions about different aspects of city services, including public safety, interaction with city employees, utilities and infrastructure.

"It's a good way to see if you're on track and to make sure you're not missing something," Messina said.

The retreat will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St. The retreat is a public meeting, but members of the public will not be invited to speak.

A complete agenda for the event, along with supporting documentation, can be found at the city's website.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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