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Mayor seeks comment on city's four-year plan

Date: 1/4/2011

Jan. 5, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic Sarno wants to hear reactions from residents on a document that would guide the efforts of city government for the next four years.

Sarno's administration released a draft of the four-year strategic action plan on Dec. 27 and is seeking comments by Jan. 19.

The plan addresses four areas of focus: public safety, education, neighborhoods and economic vitality. The plan can be read in full on the city's Web site,

Besides noting steps to be taken, the plan also establishes timelines and ways to measure the success of each effort.

Sarno wrote in his cover letter for the plan, "While the economic climate of fiscal year 2012 will present the city of Springfield with several economic challenges, I remain optimistic. As we are forced to do more with less, this draft Strategic Action Plan will serve as the underpinning we need to keep our focus sharp and resources aligned. We must continue to move in the right direction and be poised for even greater success as the city's financial situation improves.

"This memorandum is being issued to request feedback from city external stakeholders as a result of our efforts to collaborate and move the city forward.

"It is only through responsible leadership, shared accountability and relentless execution that Springfield will be a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable community that embraces diversity, collaboration and growth."

Comments can be made by calling the city's 311 number — for those calling from out of the city, the number is 736-3111 — or by e-mailing the reactions to

The following are the main points of the plan:

Public Safety

Preserve, maintain and improve the safety of those living, working and visiting in the city of Springfield.

Goal: Improve the perception of public safety throughout the entire city.

Steps: Conduct, track and audit regular maintenance activities.

• Provide a visible presence of public safety activities.

• Use technology to conduct more day-to-day public safety activities.

Goal: Improve the city's response to crime and quality of life issues regarding safety.

Steps: Track and audit response times to meet specified standards.

• Promote after school programming and activities.

• Conduct interdepartmental collaboration efforts and 311 updates regularly.

Goal: Strengthen enforcement of public safety ordinances.

Steps: Develop and conduct a collaborative ordinance-training program.

• Inventory what information is collected by departments and develop an information sharing plan for both city employees and the public.

• Meet with neighborhood councils and share ordinance information.

Goal: Strengthen tools that provide public safety information and awareness.

Steps: Review and update Web site regularly and publish crime data to the public.

• Develop a task force to study and develop a policy regarding use of social media.

• Develop a regular newsletter.

• Conduct beat management meetings.


Students realize their full potential and lead fulfilling lives as life long learners, responsible citizens and leaders.

Goal: Increase proficiency rate for all students.

Steps: Recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.

• Increase the students' opportunity to develop 21st century skills during non-school hours.

• Develop a system that aligns the School Department with out-of-school system (such as parks, libraries, etc.)

Goal: Increase graduation rate.

Steps: Increase attendance rates for all students.

• Support early childhood literacy initiative.

• Increase communication with Springfield Public Schools (SPS) parents.

Goal: Develop students' leadership skills for the 21st century.

Step: Each city department will commit to volunteering time and expertise to SPS to provide a mentoring or internship experience for students.

Economic Vitality

Facilitate growth and development to ensure the physical, environmental and economic health of the city.

Goal: Job creation and retention.

Steps: Focus on building Springfield's niche markets: Energy/green innovation; medical; technology; precision manufacturing; and financial services.

• Host small-business forums.

• Request for Proposals on city-owned commercial property.

Goal: Market/reposition the city.

Steps: Increase advertising at city locations.

• Expand the Economic Development e-newsletter delivery.

• Issue program-based "good news" press releases on a monthly basis.

Goal: Create a vibrant downtown.

Steps: Offer year-round entertainment activities.

• Increase the "7-11" downtown programming.

• Increase balanced housing options in the downtown area by partnering with area colleges.

• Increase the percentage of market-rate housing in the downtown area.

Goal: Develop workforce job skills.

Steps: Partner with area businesses to visit schools for "career days" or "career fairs."

• Develop an internship program at local businesses.

• Increase the number of senior aides training sites.

Goal: Make Springfield a sustainable city.

Steps: Environmental stewardship.

• Reduction in vacant housing structures.

• High values on quality of life.

• Preservation of heritage.

• Reduction of consumption/waste.

Healthy neighborhoods

Strengthen and enhance the physical, mental, and social health of residents and neighborhoods

Goal: Increase Environmental (Green) efforts in housing, schools, public buildings and the natural environment by 20 percent.

Steps: Create a municipal environmental committee with department representation to coordinate management of citywide environmental responsibilities.

• Develop and enforce environmental standards / polices / procedures.

• Creation of Healthy Home Standards to be used in HUD-funded construction or rehabilitation projects.

• Provide education on environmental topics to various audiences, including business, industry, health, non-profit, pre K - youth, neighborhood and municipal.

• Perform multi environmental media site inspections using dedicated Interagency Municipal Green Teams for school and municipal buildings.

• Increase energy efficiency and conservation efforts in concert with local utility company initiatives.

Goal: Increase housing stability.

Steps: Reduce number of properties in backlog for demolition.

• Reinvest demolition proceeds back into demolition program.

• Identify programs available and increase their efficiency and targeting for improving housing stock.

• Increase education to residents and municipal departments of available resources (foreclosure prevention, emergency home repair funding, etc.).

• Improve city housing ordinances, enforcement policies and compliance.

Goal: Engage the community to increase awareness of available health services in municipal government.

Steps: Develop an interdepartmental health multidisciplinary team.

• Identify and reduce barriers to residents' ability to access health services.

• Develop a communication strategy to educate residents.

Goal: Sustain departmental services that contribute toward healthy neighborhoods.

• Identify services in each municipal department that contribute directly to a healthy neighborhood.

• Ensure those services have stable funding streams and are operating as efficiently as possible.

• Engage public and solicit input to prioritize services.

Goal: Expand access to municipal services / programs / materials that are linguistically appropriate and culturally competent (through translation and interpretation).

Steps: Develop a needs assessment.

• Perform a gap analysis.

• Create strategies to address findings of gap analysis.

Fiscal and operational excellence

Ensure operational excellence, fiscal health, and sustainability in all divisions, departments, programs, and activities.

Goal: Increase cross-departmental communication and planning for citywide projects.

Steps: Develop and distribute citywide project plan template including defining project champions and team members by year-end.

• Create project plans for the upcoming fiscal year including key departments before the budget process starts.

Goal: Maximize revenue through a uniform and coordinated collection process.

Steps: Review revenue policies and procedures.

• Provide training and professional development in revenue collection.

• Develop a fee needs analysis.

• Maximize use of MUNIS General Billing module as applicable.

• Collaborate to increase our grant revenue.

Goal: Improve efficiency and effectiveness by streamlining departmental procedures and policies across all city departments.

Steps: Develop and distribute citywide policies and procedures including contracts processes, risk management procedures and volunteer procedures.

• Provide training in citywide policies and procedures.

Goal: Continue to adhere to and improve upon city financial policy.

Steps: Maintain general fund salaries, benefits, and FTEs within revenue raising capacity.

• Generate general fund operating surplus as a percentage of general fund revenues each year.

• Maintain property tax revenue at 30 percent of general fund revenue.

• Increase total reserves as a percentage of total budget from 11 to 12 percent.

• Decrease debt as a percentage of assessed value from 6.2 to 5.7 percent.

• Decrease long-term debt per capita from $2,059 to $1,999.

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