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By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The Finance & Governance Committee, Oct 13, offered input about the strategic priorities five-year update process.
The item supports the city's organizational effectiveness strategy. The purpose of the organizational effectiveness strategy is to strengthen and stabilize the organizational foundation in Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources and improve workforce quality while increasing public transparency.
Deputy City Manager Shiri Klima presented the item to the committee and said in Oct 2015, the city council and senior leadership team held a priority setting public workshop.
At that time, the council determined five strategic priority areas: organizational effectiveness, economic development, quality of life, infrastructure, and natural resources. The council also determined goals and objectives under each area.
"It is good practice to update these priorities every five years," she said. "The management wanted to bring this to the council this winter. We're not asking for feedback on the actual priorities right now. That's for the winter discussion. What we're doing is preparing and asking you about the process and if you are comfortable with this process. Then we can prepare accordingly."
The city will have a public outreach, and all five committees will consider priorities in Jan.
"In Feb, we'd like to have a special meeting of the city council," she said. "We'd like to do it at a special meeting because this is a lengthier conversation and topic that requires some time. We'd have a special meeting in Feb to discuss these priorities, do a lot of public outreach, and get public input. Finally, in March, we'll have the council adopt the priorities that we determined in Feb at a regular meeting."
With Covid-19 still in the community, Klima said the city would make a concerted effort to have the public outreach be through digital and other methods. Not in person.
"What we would like from you today is to offer feedback on this process," she said. "Not on the specific priorities you'd like us to focus on."
During committee comments, Member Vianey Lopez asked what that would look like and if it would happen through public meetings and social media.
"Council Member, that's a question, and I pose that back to you to let us know what type of outreach you'd like us to do," Klima said. "We are definitely going to be on the committees, and we can post some things onto social media if you'd like."
Lopez said she'd like the city to receive input through a survey or online submission.
"I'd like to have a little bit of this homework done ahead of having these discussions," she said.
Committee Member Bert Perello said the public outreach piece of the input poses some interesting challenges.
"There has to be some method because of this virus," he said. "The Zoom, as we are finding with a gentleman, we couldn't get in touch with him. Sometimes, people are not able to work this. I hope that social media will be used. I more so hope that with the 50 neighborhood councils we use, we'll reach out to each and every one of those neighborhood councils. I am aware that some neighborhood council leadership will not do Zoom meetings. I am assuming that there are some members on those neighborhood council boards that would be willing to step up and conduct a Zoom meeting with their neighborhood and get more of a direct input about what their concerns are. One thing with social media is, are these inputs coming from residents within the City of Oxnard? I would like very much to get input from residents in the City of Oxnard. Sometimes, social media can be hijacked for various purposes. The issue about language barriers, electronic barriers are the concerns that I have with this. I do believe we need to have something done. In the past, it has been a matter of putting stickers on various things, and you bring in people with a strong interest in one specific area and oversaturate a message of importance when it may not have been the fairest way of doing it."
Chairman Tim Flynn noted that sometimes there is a complete disconnect between the city council, the public, and the staff over the strategic priorities.
"It's almost like you go through a process like this, and it's talked about in the agenda," he said. "On all agenda items, it talks about how a specific agenda item is meeting the strategic priorities of the council. The council almost never revisits these priorities. Because the priorities are often broad, what this council needs to get its hands around is to determine what the priorities are. The spending should reflect the priorities."