City approves strategic plan for upcoming fiscal year

Commissioners unanimous in importance of long-term financial planning

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published February 6, 2013

ROYAL OAK — Following a five-and-a-half hour meeting last month, the city’s 2013-14 strategic plan has been set.

The City Commission voted 5-2 to approve the plan during their Jan. 28 meeting. The plan was developed during a Jan. 12 gathering at Beaumont Hospital that included many city staff members.

The purpose of the annual strategic planning session is to develop goals and objectives for the upcoming fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014.

General areas that the City Commission wanted to focus on included communication, community, operations, economic/tax base, fiscal management, infrastructure and public safety. Each area was further broken down into specific objectives and many were ranked based on how important the commission thought the focus should be.

A star voting system determined the rankings. Each commissioner was given seven stars to disperse between the categories. Commissioner Jim Rasor, who was one of the two dissenting votes, had to leave the meeting due to illness prior to establishing the rankings, but one item — medium- and long-range financial planning — still drew a star from each of the six commissioners remaining in attendance. Specifically, the top priority is to “develop a medium- and long-range plan to address the city’s financial needs, including legacy costs.”

Four other items were ranked by at least half of the six commissioners, with the next highest being to “develop a sustainable plan to maintain and enhance Royal Oak’s infrastructure, including water/sewer and roads.”

“I think we need to look at what our citizens have said with that scientific survey (conducted last year) and see how that meshes with these objectives,” Commissioner Peggy Goodwin said. The survey sought residents’ opinions about issues and the city’s direction.

At least half of the commission also agreed on three other points of the 16-item list, including making the execution of the Parks and Recreation master plan a top priority, hiring a director of economic development and establishing a plan for improved communication among and between city departments and city officials.

“Some people looked at the world through different vantage points; some a little bit more in the forest, some a little bit more in the trees,” Commissioner Michael Fournier said. “I think kind of at the end we came to the conclusion that some of these goals, maybe some of the ones that got lesser stars, are actually enablers or components of the ones that got more stars.”

Public safety, regional public transportation, rodent control, a downtown city park and both Downtown Developmental Authority and senior-resident relationships were among the areas remaining in the one- and two-star portions of the strategic plan rankings.

Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Capello cast the second dissenting vote, alongside Rasor, because she said she felt not every suggestion needed to be included, especially if only a single commissioner supported its inclusion.

“I have concerns about the process,” Capello said. “Anyone could put any objective up on the wall. None of them got discarded unless they didn’t get any stars. And you can look at the priority and you have from six stars to one star, and yet every one of them made it into our list of goals and objectives.

“I understand that there was no discussion about whether they should or should not be up there. It only took somebody putting it up there and putting a star next to it to make it now on our list of our objectives, and I’m going to suggest that the list of objectives is extremely ambitious. If there is time to work on all of them, I’d be very, very surprised.”

City Manager Don Johnson said the more focus the plan has, the better. He noted
that the new plan has about half as many items listed as the 2012-13 plan.

“If there are things on this list that are really not your goals, really not things the majority of this commission would like to see get accomplished, I would rather see them get struck now, rather than do the work and then discover that you really didn’t care about them,” Johnson said.

The 16-item list was approved, as is. To view the complete approved strategic plan, visit