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March 12, 2012

Supervisors endorse changes to county strategic plan

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By Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, March 12, 2012

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has approved the addition of two objectives to the county’s strategic plan that would direct staff to add education and public safety as priorities.

The county’s strategic plan is an over-arching document that sets general direction for financial planning over a five year period. It will take effect on July 1, 2012 and now has seven distinct goals with descriptive objectives.

“It seems like you’ve done what we asked you to do,” said Kenneth C. Boyd, member of the County Board of Supervisors.  “We had a work session on this before and this is what we asked to be done.”

The two new strategic goals are “ensure the health and safety of the community” and “provide excellent educational opportunities to all Albemarle residents.”

In order to provide better educational options, supervisors said they support a goal of increasing the amount and quality of pre-kindergarten education options while developing the adult workforce in this field.  

County staff has worked in conjunction with the Albemarle schools and the United Way to identify metrics for work-force development.

This resulted in the creation of a Work-Force Development Opportunities Action Plan that will pair with the Economic Vitality Action Plan adopted by Supervisors in 2010.

“We’ve identified work-force development in both of those places, so we’re going to make sure that they coordinate with each other,” said Thomas C. Foley, County Executive.

Objectives supporting the public health and safety goal include working with important stakeholders to establish multi-disciplinary teams to streamline work on public health and safety issues as well as increasing emergency response times.  

The aim is listed in the Comprehensive Plan as a response time of 5 minutes for fire and rescue services.

The third goal in the plan, “protect the County’s parks and its natural, historic and scenic resources,” has had an objective added to it.  The objective now states that Albemarle will “work in conjunction with key stakeholders to protect the health of our local waterways and other critical natural resources.”

“The [objective] that you’ve added is excellent, brings in the collaboration as well with other local agencies who do a lot of the grunt work for a lot of these issues,” said Ann H. Mallek, chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Staff will include compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay clean-up as the focus of one of the action plan items for the goal.

 “We’ve made fairly significant changes here.  We had [Total Maximum Daily Load] as an issue, as an objective, and this is much broader now based on the input that you all provided,” said Foley.

At the beginning of last Wednesday’s meeting, many speakers expressed concern that a previous strategic plan goal for “growth management” has now been deemphasized.

Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker was also concerned.

“If you look at the Comprehensive Plan, throughout it we talk about growth management.  If you look at the citizen surveys, [ranked] way above additional jobs in the community is growth management, protection of natural resources,” said Rooker.

Foley asked if the other objectives under the protection of scenic, historic and natural resources goal covered the same issues as a growth management objective.

“The purpose of growth management is to protect natural resources and so forth,” said Foley.

Mallek suggested that perhaps growth management statements were more appropriate in the Comprehensive Plan but ultimately suggested that an objective about growth management be added to the goal.

Another new goal in this strategic plan states that the county will “promote individual responsibility and citizen ownership of community challenges.” Foley said the intent is to encourage volunteer activities to support the community, and in effect reduce government expenditures.  

Supervisor Rodney S. Thomas gave the example of providing resources that will enable student groups to have roadside cleanups.  

The updated Strategic Plan will be take effect on July 1.  The Board of Supervisors will be notified of its progress through updates twice-yearly at meetings, through regular updates on key performance indicators, and references included in budget items. An annual summary of progress report will be published every February.

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