City council retreat has officials looking inward

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Marysville City Council held its annual planning retreat recently and spent much of the time discussing internal operations rather than external community growth.
Council and administrative staff came together March 2 and 3 to talk about what they hope to achieve in the coming year. Though while the running theme of the past two years has been how the city is expanding, this year’s retreat looked inward.
City officials also discussed restructuring city committees. City Manager Terry Emery said council will begin holding work sessions the first Monday of every month starting in April. These meetings, which will take place at the police station, will have the city’s administrative staff presenting legislation or topics for city council members to discuss.
Emery said council will generally discuss topics that are about to come before council.
The meetings will be open to the public, but since they’re meetings expressly for council members to discuss topics amongst themselves, citizens will not be able to speak.
“Someone from the public can be there and listen, but the work sessions are exactly that, they’re work sessions,” Emery said.
Emery noted anything that comes to a work session will be presented at council at a later date, so citizens would be able to voice concerns there.
To further shake up the committee structure, Emery said the city plans to get rid of the Public Affairs Committee sometime this summer. That would leave a committee for finance and utilities and one for public service projects.
Emery said though the Public Affairs Committee has served a purpose, “some of the items that have typically gone to public affairs may end up in one of those two committees in the future,” or go straight to city council’s work sessions.
The work sessions, Emery said, are born out of the abundance of larger, broader issues facing council. While smaller, more routine topics will come to the smaller committees, more far-reaching topics concerning large-scale development will come before council members at the work sessions.
The new meetings will also streamline the process for some topics.
“We end up having to go to two separate committees sometimes because it involves finances and it involves infrastructure,” he said. “We feel it would be best to just lay it out for the entire council.”
Emery said those discussions at the new meetings could result in fewer questions asked at regular council meetings.
“Council can just have a lot of one-on-one with our staff in preparation for the legislation that will be coming at a regular council meeting,” he said.
Council also discussed what the city is looking to foster in terms of development.
“We came out of there with the whole thought that we have to really focus on not only the growth of the community, but really looking at growth in a smart way,” he said. “Not haphazard growth.”
As part of the Saturday discussion, council and the city’s planning commission came together to discuss their relationship to each other.
City Human Resources Director Brian Dostanko said the planning commission and city council discussed plans to continually update Marysville’s strategic plan on a more constant basis. This, he said, will involve planning goals throughout the year that officials will bring before council.
The two groups also talked about working more closely together.
During the recent process that ended in the approval the Ewing Meadows Development earlier this year, council members expressed disagreement with how the city’s planning commission handled the application earlier in the process.
Emery said the relationship between council and planning commission came up during the retreat.
“The purpose of this is not for us all to try to think that we’re going to agree moving forward,” he said. “The purpose is to help each committee … understand each other.”
Emery said the meeting revealed the desire among officials for a “cohesive process.” He said the city is hoping to put together a system that doesn’t result in confusion from any board or council.
Emery said that streamlined approach might involve members of the planning commission being involved in council’s new work sessions. Planning Commission members could also become more involved in monthy internal meetings the administrative staff already holds to discuss new development.
An involved collaboration between council and planning commission, Emery said, would “encourage the sharing of information.”
“You’re going to see some of that be incorporated as well,” he said.



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