Strategic planning training for public officials

Michigan government agencies are facing pressure to continue or expand their services while the amount of tax money coming in to support them is often declining.

City and township officials from across much of the U.P. received training today on strategic planning to address modern–day challenges.

According to the trainer, the biggest question with strategic planning is, ‘who’s at the table?’.

If any segments of a community aren’t involved in long–range plans from the beginning, those groups won’t support any solutions that are developed.

“These are all public servants, and they’ve all seen tremendous drops in resources and people and things like this, and expectations have to be real,” Southern Illinios University professor emeritus Dr. Lew Bender said.

He suggests that boards of government form plans with 3 to 5 specific goals that they know they can make progress on within a set period of time, such as a year.

“Once a village board or a township board, as an example, (or) a city council, has decided where they want to go, if you’re going to keep it relevant and you’re going to keep viable, you need to be bringing these things before council in one form — or the board — or another each month,” Dr. Bender said.

The Northern Michigan Public Service Academy hosted the seminar. It’s a nonprofit group that helps county and municipal employees in the U.P. with job-related training.