Wood calls for special council policy summit

Meetings scheduled for July 8-9

It took new Mayor Rick Wood less than a week to make good on his promise to refine the town’s priorities for the next year and the foreseeable future.

Wood, in what he says is his final year on the council, called for a pair of unprecedented special town council meetings July 8 and July 9, characterizing them as “Strategic Planning Sessions.”

The purpose of the sessions is for the Town Council to more formally articulate its priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as to establish a longer-term strategic focus for the town, said information officer Stuart Brown in a news release issued on Tuesday, June 25.

Wood, also quoted in the news release, sought to be more specific in the assignment for the council.

“I want the Town Council’s decisions, including funding decisions during the year, to follow the priorities, not the other way around,” Wood said.

“We [the town council] need to identify and communicate to the public what the most important priorities are for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. This will ultimately determine what we can and cannot do, providing greater leadership and more effective governance for the community and clarity for staff.”

Most of all, the sessions would give the council members a chance at expansive debate, Wood said in an interview on June 18.

“We have not really had what I want, which is a policy discussion of realigning our priorities,” he said. “I want this council to take a stand, and not sort of, you know, work around the fringes on the things that are mostimportant to them.

“On July 8 we’re going to have a reorganization session and another one on [July 9], and what I hope to accomplish is for each council member to pick his or her top five priorities, or three.

“I hope there will be some overlap, and what I’m hoping we’ll be able to distill priorities to about five, and we’ll be able to say, ‘Public, this is it.’”

The Strategic Planning Sessions are scheduled for the Council Chambers, Suite Z in the Minaret Village Mall, and will be webcast and broadcast to the public, Brown said.

The first session, on Monday, July 8, will begin at 2:30 p.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. The second session, on Tuesday, July 9, is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and is scheduled to finish at 5 p.m.

Both sessions are to be facilitated by Wood, with assistance from Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.

The agenda, published on Tuesday, June 25, is wide open and broken into four parts: context, prioritization, policy directives, and financial planning.

First up would be a discussion of context, during which the council would receive from the town staff a “State of the Town” report in which long-term fiscal realities are delineated; departments’ key deliverables for the 2013-14 fiscal year are listed, along with “priority items that will not be accomplished in 2013-14.”

From there, the council is to jump to a discussion of all of the Town Council members’ priorities, followed by a discussion of where there may be overlaps, and then finally narrowing the priorities to five.

Finally, the council is to come up with policy directives for the next year, as well as the “Five-Year Horizon,” after which the council would recommend a financial management plan.

That plan would include budget balancing measures in the case of a projected shortfall in 2013-14 and in future years; add-backs in the event of a projected surplus; incorporating strategic planning sessions into the annual budget process, in February; and, finally, reporting on fiscal year-end accomplishments in August.

As its final agenda item, the council would invite public comment.

For additional information regarding the Town Council Strategic Planning Sessions, contact Town Manager, Marianna Marysheva-Martinez at (760) 934-8989 ext. 228.