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Next Tuesday morning the Astoria City Council meets in a work session to discuss strategic planning and visioning. The meeting starts at 9:00 am at city hall and the public may observe the conversation.

Each year the city council establishes goals for the upcoming year and those goals in recent years have resembled laundry lists of wished for projects driven by whatever happened to be top of mind at the moment.

This work session deals with a different approach that could help inform those goals in future years.

City strategic planning is a specific process designed to incorporate where the city is today and where it would like to be in the future in a way that provides a solid foundation for that future decision-making.

Typically, the process begins with a discussion about the city’s “Core Mission”.  In consultation with the city manager and department heads and citizens, the council would craft a statement that shows what the government will do for the city, the community and the public.  It shouldn’t be too specific and should be concise. This is a step that some people don’t take seriously but it is the main building block that will keep stakeholders focused from that point forward.

A “Vision Statement” comes next. This builds on the mission by stating what the city is hoping to achieve in the future to reach the mission.  This can be a little more specific and, once again, usually involves management, staff and the public.  The vision statement takes into account where the city would like to be in 3 – 5 years as more practical ideas, but should also include consideration of what Astoria might look like in 10-20 years in the future so these would be more audacious goals. Some citizens might propose some pretty far-fetched ideas but experts say it’s not a bad thing to have people thinking like this.

Once a core mission and a vision statement are completed the next step is to prioritize goals. Some should be a higher priority than others and are usually stated as five to seven objectives that will guarantee the city executes the strategy. Some cities prioritize neighborhood livability, economy, efficient and high performing government, transportation, health and safety, and culture.  Usually, citizens, management staff, and the council are involved in crafting this priority list.

Knowing how the plan will be communicated and rolled out is the next step.  If the entire process has been perfectly transparent everyone from employees to citizens should have an understanding of how they fit into the plan making implementation far easier to accomplish. People need to be able to explain the strategic plan in very simple terms.

Establishing key performance indicators helps everyone know that the plan is on track. These can be milestones for each department or committee to accomplish toward achieving the goals and therefore making the vision a reality true to the core mission.

The Astoria city council will take its own tack in this process and the discussion gets underway next Tuesday morning at City hall.

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