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‘Efficient, affordable and safe place to live, work and play’

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Williston looks toward its future

By Carolyn Ten Broeck

The message from Kerry Crawford was clear  to the Williston City Council, “You have to know where you’re at to figure out where you’re going.”
Crawford, a member of  Leadership Ocala and the Florida Sterling Council, was Friday’s facilitator as the mayor and council members brainstormed the future of Williston.
 Council members were told that while they may think they know what residents and employees want, they need to find a way to track those needs and wants.
“What do your employees say about how things are done?” Crawford asked. “They are your worker bees. They know what’s broken. Do you know what they know?”
Crawford said the city should measure itself against other cities its size and then put steps in place that would serve as protection.
A mission statement and a vision statement are critical for the city, Crawford said, and the vision statement should be a reflection of the mission statement.
“Your mission statement should be a summary of what you do best of every day,” he said. “You have a focus and everything is built on it.”
By using the SWOT analysis, a strategic planning method that utiltizes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the city could make significant progress in both short-term and long-term planning.
“Failing to make a decision means you’ve made one,” he told the council. “Don’t bury your head in the sand. Examine your weaknesses.”
Dennis Strow, acting city manager, told the council that while the city is a government entity, it still needs to consider itself a business and the residents are its customers–and everything is geared toward customer service.
During the informal discussion, councilors learned that some   city employees do not have written job descriptions and no one on the council knows exactly how many people are employed by the city.
The need for an organizational chart and job descriptions were deemed crucial.
In fact, to create a strategic plan, council members agreed they have to start internally with the employees and find the weaknesses in the city structure so they can move forward with the overall plan.
“You have to have accountability and a due date,” Strow told them.
Councilor Charles Goodman said he thought this discussion was off-topic of visioning, and while some agreed, it was also a consensus that the brainstorming was enabling council to work toward improvement.
It was Councilor Jason Cason who first laid the groundwork for a mission statement, and after minor tweaking, the council agreed that it would soon adopt, “The mission of the City of Williston is to offer an efficient affordable and safe place to live, work and play.”
Once the mission statement is established, the city can further hone its vision for the future and will solicit resident input via surveys and phone calls.