Charlottesville City Council have adopted the outline of a document intended to guide the work of hundreds of municipal employees through 2028.
“This is some long hard work that we’ve been working with the Raftelis Group to get done,” said City Manager Sam Sanders at the 4 p.m. work session from the September 5 meeting.
A strategic plan is a set of directives used by localities to guide the work that staff conducts and investments that are made in big projects. Charlottesville has been working off an older document after development of a new one stalled in 2021.
The city hired the Raftelis Group earlier this year to do the work. That has involved a lot of conversations with staff as well as a Council retreat in May.
“In the conversation it was very clear that justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) were truly core values to all of the work that this organization engages in,” said Michelle Ferguson of the Raftelis Group.
The framework has a vision and nine “strategic outcome areas” that will eventually have specific strategies in place. Ferguson said work on JEDI issues could be seen as a tenth outcome area of its own.
Those strategic outcome areas are:
- Climate Action
- Economic Prosperity
- Organizational excellence
- Public Safety
- Recreation, Arts, Culture
Each outcome area has its own description.
The new plan will cover the next five years.
“It gives staff the ability to work on implementation so immediately upon your adoption of this matter later this evening, we will begin to operationalize it,” Sanders said.
Sanders said adoption of the framework would be the beginning of the plan and that Council can always shift direction if so desired.
“This is really how you set the vision and then we as staff will take it from there,” Sanders said.
However, the plan is not quite yet complete and strategies have yet to be formally written down.
“While this may not be all of the plan, I would submit that it is however the most important parts of the plan because the framework that you all have outlined really includes the key direction,” said Michelle Ferguson of the Raftelis Group. “Where does the community want to be? Where do you want the community to be over the next five years?”
Sanders said the city will need to rehire the Raftelis Group to continue their work as their original scope has concluded. The new city manager also said he would create his own work plan that would be tied directly to the strategic plan.
“So I’m going to live by this document and then the team will be expected to live by this document,” Sanders said.
Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said there was one item he wanted to make sure was covered somewhere in the strategic plan.
“The word ‘food equity’ should be included,” Wade said. “I’m seeing more and more reports about how inflation is really impacting that and our effort last time played a big role in organizations like Cultivate Charlottesville and things like that.”
Wade said that would help such groups with grants for specific programs.
City Councilor Michael Payne said he thought food equity might have a spot under one of the nine outcome areas as they are broad categories.
“I think food equity could be under economic prosperity under a strategy for community wealth building which I know is how Cultivate Charlottesville has explicitly thought about it,” Payne said.
Following the presentation, City Councilor Leah Puryear wanted to know how work toward justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion would be measured. Sanders said that one of the items that needed more work.
“What we will bring to you be satisfactory in that we will break down what is made up in that particular commitment as we see as operational things that can be done,” Sanders said. “And then of course it falls under each of the nine categories.”
Mayor Lloyd Snook said he tried to determine if there was any order of ranking among the nine strategic outcome areas, an exercise that was inconclusive.
“One of the nice things about this is that it really wasn’t capable of calling them 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6,” Snook said. “But the one that was at the absolute center was organizational excellence and if we do achieve that goal, the other eight become that much more possible.”
Several hours after the work session, Council adopted the framework. More details to come as more reports are made and strategies are strategized.
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