Township seeks online input for 2013 priorities

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 7, 2012

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — As part of its annual campaign to solicit the community’s input in township governance, Shelby Township is opening up its visioning process to the World Wide Web.

While officials were glad to see the 30 to 40 residents and community leaders who attended the Oct. 30 visioning meeting at Cherry Creek Golf Club, they’re hoping an online survey at sees a higher level of participation.

“We did a different effort to promote (the visioning meeting) a little bit and sent invitations to all parties that were part of a board or committee, and a third of the people there had a connection to the township, and there were some new people that had never shown up before,” Planning Commissioner Glenn Wynn said.

“Last year, we saw we needed to get the electronic part involved here, and as a result, it’s going to be significantly more input than we’ve had in the past,” township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said.

The online poll runs until 5 p.m. Nov. 12 and asks the community to rate, on a scale of 5 to -5, the importance of choices among seven categories: “municipal infrastructure,” “community development,” “long-term financial aspects,” “road improvements,” “township staffing,” “training and organization” and “township equipment.”

The township’s Planning Department developed the survey with help from a consultant from McKenna Associates, a community planning and design firm located in Northville.

“We’re down to two people on our staff, and to extend our staff, to make it more effective, we expanded our staff,” Wynn said of the $2,900 spent from his department’s budget to hire the consultant.

“We have money budgeted, and we’ll be well within our budget this year. There’s no extra Social Security number with (a consultant).”

Wynn said the decision to go with the free SurveyMonkey software was a natural fit.

“Our consultants have done that before, and they were able to take our structure and modify that,” Wynn said.

The feedback gathered online will be added to that gleaned from the Oct. 30 meeting.

“It was a fresh process,” Wynn said of the Oct. 30 meeting. “There were a lot of ideas that came up that we had never heard before, and that was really surprising.”

Some examples included aging in place and keeping people in their homes.

The residents’ input from the Oct. 30 meeting and the online poll accounts for one-third of what will ultimately be the 2013 priorities. It will be incorporated with the priorities gleaned from meetings with township department heads and those priorities of the Board of Trustees.

Following an Oct.16 department head visioning meeting, their top 10 priorities were to “address library building needs, create a capital improvement plan, address community center needs, reform police and fire pension system, study the efficiency of the civil service process, increase technology training, Shepherd Park development, better utilize existing municipal building space, resolve court building issue and support the county’s blue economy initiative.”

Results from the Board of Trustees’ priorities meeting were not available at press time.

“I really don’t know a community that, before a budget is approved, asks community members to come in and give us their thoughts,” Stathakis said of the visioning process.