City of Jefferson - Strategic Plan 2004


Jefferson Strategic Plan 2004

The City of Jefferson recently hired an consultant from Iowa to conduct a strategic planning process.

What is strategic planning? It is a tool to help an organization do a better job - to focus its energy, to ensure that members of the organization are working toward the same goals, to assess and adjust the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. It should produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. (Definition adapted from Bryson's "Strategic Planning in Public and Nonprofit Organizations".)

There's an old joke about consultants: A consultant is someone who comes in, borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, keeps the watch, and charges you an exorbitant fee.

In this case, the fee was $5,000. Has he told us what time it is, and was our watch keeping accurate time to begin with? Yes, I think so. The problems of Jefferson's economy and infrastructure have remained largely the same in the last decade.

Reading these assessments is sobering. There are a lot of very unpleasant comments regarding the Council's effectiveness - even comments made by Council members themselves. Three Council members didn't even bother to respond to the survey.

The resulting report is posted below, section by section. Whether the City of Jefferson, its Council, staff and committees will take the comments to heart is another matter. The report was plopped in front of Council members at the October 19 Council meeting without fanfare or discussion.

Like the old joke, the City paid a lot of money to learn what time was showing on its own watch. We didn't pay $5,000 to learn how to cure our problems - we only bought a shiny new version of the list.

The Council's problems continue. The strategic planning sessions were held Friday October 1 and Saturday October 2. The consultant split the meetings into three parts. The Jefferson Development Commission met Friday morning. Staff met Friday afternoon. The Council met Saturday morning.

They neglected to properly announce the Council and JDC meetings, in violation of Wisconsin's Open Meetings law. No agendas were made. The Council even deliberated and took action, as seen in the memo below. This was the first hearing of Ald. Chris Gang's proposal to eliminate the City Engineer and the Park & Rec director.


NOTE: Some of these documents are Adobe Acrobat "PDF" files. They are stored this way to preserve the formatting of the original documents. If you don't have Acrobat Reader on your system, it's a free download and an easy installation at this link.

Summary and Comments from the Consultant :

  • The community image of the Jefferson City Council is not positive.
  • The relationship within the City Council is not one of team work.
  • There is apparently an inability to address controversial or thorny issues in a timely fashion.
  • There is a lack of understanding, respect, and team work between the City Council and City Staff.
  • A tendency for the City Council to "micro-manage" is evident.

Mayor and Council's Survey - Three members did not respond.

Mayor and Council's Survey, Analyzing Council effectiveness - The Council's assessment of which problems have and have not been addressed. Sample quotes:

  • "Our Council is pretty dysfunctional. There are some very strong personalities on the Council and sometimes they don't get along too well. In this past election the lack of Council civility was major issue that dominated the campaign. Council members depend too much on the “good ol' boy” network to tell them what to do, how to vote, etc. The Mayor needs to provide leadership and it has been said that he's just a puppet of his predecessor. Sometimes they are disrespectful (roll their eyes, mumble, etc.) of each other."
  • "City staff needs to be more friendly. Remember, they work not for Bruce, but for the citizens of Jefferson. I want it to be like Waffle House. Ever been to one? When you walk in, EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE greets you, with a warm smile and “hello” talk about an awesome feeling. You walk in and immediately you have 6 or 7 people greet you. Why can't our City staff be more friendly? Putting paper on the windows and putting signs out that say “staff only” makes people feel unwelcome. I own a business (a funeral home) that I stand at the door and greet each person who enters." - Ald. David Olsen

Jefferson City Council / Mayor Agreements - The Council asks the Administrator to research eliminating the Park & Rec Director and City Engineer, as well as disbanding committees or new methods of conducting City business.

Mayor and Council's Survey, Analyzing Council effectiveness - The Council's assessment of which problems have and have not been addressed. Sample quotes:

Council's Summary of the City Administrator's Role

  • "The Council agreed that they believe the City Administrator's role is clearly as listed below."

City Staff's Visions and Issues

  • "Council and Staff not seen as the enemy or adversarial to the other group. Council sees the "Big Picture" for entire community – not specific groups."

City Staff's Survey of City Environment and Issues

Jefferson Development Commission's Vision and Issues

Jefferson Development Commission's Ranking of City Goals and Issues

Jefferson Development Commission's Survey of City Environment and Issues