After returning from the holidays, the City Council and senior management staff gathered together onsite for an annual two-day retreat on January 6 and 7, 2015. The City uses these retreats as strategic planning sessions that provide thoughts and direction from the City Council.
The main focus for our retreat this year is how to move forward with implementing Measure H and serving the Rancho Cordova community.
The City Council has a strong desire to reach out and have a dialogue with our citizens about the community and Measure H. With the new Measure H’s one-half percent sales tax going into effect on April 1, 2015, and the desire to put money to work in improving the community as soon as possible, there is much to do in a short amount of time. Measure H is anticipated to generate over $1 million this fiscal year through June 30 and generate an estimated $7 million plus growth per year thereafter.
With that in mind, City Council invited citizens and representatives of community groups and local government entities to the first day of the retreat, and we had approximately 40 people attend beyond City Council and staff.
The focus of the first day and much of the second day was around Measure H and determining what are the important focus areas for the money and then establishing the framework for creating a plan to implement Measure H.
On the first day of the retreat, we had robust roundtable discussions related to what are the most important focus areas for Measure H funds and a variety of themes emerged such as public safety, assisting children, education, community pride, economic development, infrastructure and transportation, the arts, and other quality of life issues. City Councilmembers were able to hear from a cross-section of the community and then provide their thoughts. From that discussion over parts of both days, we discussed the project criteria Council will use to select Measure H projects. The draft list of project criteria the Council selected, which will be refined as part of the upcoming community engagement process, includes projects that do one or more of the following: creates community pride; provides a socio or economic benefit to the City; supports public safety; supports children; supports the arts; leverages funds, resources, and partnerships; and provides opportunities for civic engagement. All projects should have clear goals and metrics; and there is a preference for projects that complete their goals within a finite time limit versus being on-going projects.
The City Council made a decision that they want a significant outreach to the community to hear their thoughts about Measure H before determining how to spend the funds for fiscal year 2015-16, which begins July 1, 2015. In order to hear from the community, we are currently planning on holding up to 16 community engagement meetings at schools and other sites throughout the community beginning in mid-February going through April. Following the community meetings, we will have time through June 1 that community groups and other organizations can request money along with City projects for Measure H funding. The Council is planning to decide which projects to fund for FY 2015-16 at the July 6 Council meeting. The schedule for Measure H target dates is available here.
Council determined that it is important that the community see the benefits of Measure H as soon as possible. A proposal will be brought to the upcoming Council meeting on January 20 for projects that we can spend on this fiscal year (by June 30, 2015). The projects being proposed for Council to review include funding for: public safety (Police personnel and technology tools but could include funding for Neighborhood Services and other departments related to public safety); community investment in public infrastructure and in projects/programs supporting culture and creative opportunities; an education and academic advancement liaison; and funds to leverage additional opportunities that address community priorities.
On the morning of January 7, seven staff members presented to Council on how their departments have embraced a Fresh Take (in addition Shelly Blanchard discussed the Cordova Community Council). The Fresh Take reports were well received by City Council and following the presentations Council asked staff very good questions related to City operations. Each of the City presenters provided a handout that are available here. I encourage you to read them to better understand the Fresh Take undertakings of various departments and how we are increasing our focus on serving the Rancho Cordova community.