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MTAS representative presents report on city planning session

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard a report last week on ways that the city can move from being a “good” to a “great” community.
The report was presented at the board’s Jan. 12 regular monthly meeting by Gary Jaeckel, a municipal management consultant with The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
Jaeckel noted that the board members conducted a two-day planning session in November 2014 at City Hall.
On Nov. 7, they discussed the “brutal facts” facing Millington, what the board is “passionate” about and what the city can “be the best at.” They also identified the “resources” the community has to enable it to move from “good” to “great.”
“As you look at the various lists,” Jaeckel said, “there are four or five things that run across each one of those three areas. When you start looking at them closely, you see there are some things that stand out.”
Five things the board listed that it is “passionate” about are:

(1) Schools and education
(2) Fun/recreation
(3) Quality of life
(4) Public safety
(4) Naval Support Activity Mid-South

Jaeckel said the board also listed many of those things under what the city can “be the best at.”
“While the whole list is important on all aspects,” he noted, “there are several things that stand out above the rest. I think those probably wind up being the four or five things that rise to the top of the list to focus on for the future.”
On Nov. 8, the board completed an exercise designed to examine how effectively it functions as a team. Jaeckel said most of the members felt that it functions somewhere between a “moderately high-performing” and a “high average-performing” team.
He recalled that the remainder of that day was devoted to identifying the board’s goals, objectives and priorities for the future and, particularly, the coming year.
As a first step, he said, the members listed things the city is “noted” for, which included many that they identified as “resources.”
They discussed three separate time lines as a part of the process of identifying and prioritizing long- and short-range goals and were presented information regarding the city departments.
“We looked at a lot of the projects that the departments had for capital improvements budgeting,” Jaeckel recalled. “And we talked about a 2014 vision, 2019 goals and the 2015-16 budget agenda.”
While noting that everything the board members talked about on Nov. 8 is on the list, Jaeckel urged them not to leave anything out as they move forward. He said they will be important to a number of different people at some point in time.
“They may not be priorities at this moment,” he acknowledged. “But it’s very realistic and very possible that some things that are currently kind of low on the list may come up significantly over the next two, three or five years.”
Although the board “covered a lot of ground” in the two-day planning session, Jaeckel said it just represents “the beginning” of what should be a much longer and much bigger process.
He encouraged the board members to re-evaluate in January or February of each year what they have accomplished, what is ongoing and what needs to happen as they move forward.
Jaeckel noted that one of the “few things” local governments are not very good at is recognizing the “positive” things that they get done. He said they spend a lot of their effort moving from one “crisis” to another.
If the board could re-evaluate its accomplishments every year for seven years, Jaeckel said, he would have “little flip charts” lined up all the way around the Board Chamber. And there would be things that the board had “crossed off” the list during that period.
“It does work, as long as you put the effort in,” he concluded. “I appreciate that you had to start, but it is just a start.”

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January 2015
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