The Goal setting session of the City Council was anything but a goal setting session. Minutes are an interesting read, but residents and businesses need to take heed of what is being proposed by the City Manager, Goodlein, Mayor Hinlley, and Business Development Liaison, Ms. Barker. Some senior members of Council may be on board with the idea to RE-BRAND and MARKET the City into the growth expanding economic world of RECREATION.
The meeting opened with this, “Mr.Goodlein said the purpose of this meeting was to obtain ideas from Council as to any goals that they would like staff to pursue in the coming year. He said that each member of Council was asked to provide a list of items they wished to discuss. Those items were collected and passed around on a sheet so that everyone could view them and take notes if they wanted.
Little, if anything was discussed as to operations of the Administration or Budget Revenues to Expenses. However, there was considerable confirmation by the Mayor and the City Manager which included support of many senior members of Council that the 3.95 Millage increase, due to expire this year, should be renewed without much consideration, discussion or hesitation.
There were several items of serious interest but little facts presented. But, Wixom needs more downtown events. This appears to be the new economic development plan. The idea being to create ,”A place where everyone wants to visit. Therefore, Wixom is an exciting place to be.
Noteworthy was Council member Rzeznik’s indication that the Wage and Salary Committee had the opportunity to meet to discuss a process that had been in place for employee wages and salaries. Presently, little is know of any such Administrative procedure for employee’s performance reviews or compensation based upon performance.
Mr.Goodlein said in preparation for this, they had secured the services of Jeff Rahmberg. Mr. Rahmberg started to look into the entire wage and salary system of the City to determine what appropriate pay increases would be for employees in different work categories. Mr. Goodlein hoped Mr. Rahmberg’s analyses would be completed within 60 days and they would present it to Council and the Wage and Salary Committee.
The meeting then moved into the discussion of how the Administration and Council could use social media and other types of methods to market the city. Mayor Hinkley explained that everyone agreed that economic development, marketing, branding, social media and getting Wixom’s name out there needed to be done. He knew that the City’s economic development strategy report said recreation was the City’s future.
The Mayor, City Manager, Goodlein, Business Development Liaison, Ms. Barker apparently have proposed that the City has to take a new direction. As when a new product is rolled out, the powers to be believe Re-branding and Marketing ought to be commenced.
Mr.Goodlein and Ms.Barker both agreed that Wixom would become more popular as we expand the number of events in the downtown area. They understood that there were barriers and hoped they would find a solution. He mentioned that people were willing to volunteer.
“The future economic driver for the City ‘s economic potential is apparently Recreation.” The Administration agrees that more downtown activities and volunteers is the future. To execute the action to RE-BRAND and MARKET the City into the growth expanding world of RECREATION is economic development.
The unasked question, “How does “city popularity and more events” equate to more economic development revenues and tax dollars? Present events cost taxpayers dollars, and the return on investment to taxpayer’s is not there. Businesses benefit from the increased traffic, but the taxpayer’s pay the bill.
For the Administration, the first step is to potentially restructure the Parks and Recreation, DDA and Economic Development into one Department. Say WHAT?
According to the Mayor, the justification: because fewer events were being hosted, and they were doing less with community services such as WOCCCA, perhaps this was the time to take a look at that Department and evaluate what they had. Maybe the solution was to fold the Parks and Recreation, DDA and Economic Development into one Department.
There was no discussion on how this combination of the Parks and Recreation, DDA and Economic Development into one Department would function or be structured. Or even if it is legally possible to structure such an organization as conflicting accountability, responsibility, and legally and legislatively issues may get in the way… and rightly so.
Structurally, it is proposed that they would maintain community services but continue to move forward and market the City as a “Recreational Standpoint.” Furthermore, the Mayor believed economic development needed to be a full time position and/or have a DDA Director. He thought that would help to restructure the Parks and Recreation because there were so many ideas to regenerate the downtown area.
The Mayor added,” that these were just his thoughts.” He asked that the staff looked at this as if they worked for a company that was trying to put a new product in the hands of the consumer. They needed to re-brand, develop the downtown area, attract businesses, families, parks, and leave something for the next generation.
Mr. Goodlein said that discussion was already underway with the merging of the economic development with a Downtown Development or Planning position. He thought Council could expect a proposal concerning the issue during the next budget process
Councilmember Smiley said a lot of what it sounded like was what an advertising agency would do.
It should be recognized by those in power that the City of Wixom is not a PRODUCT! It is a community that has its own physical and geographic characteristics that make it what it is now and tomorrow. Wixom has Character!
Businesses come in many forms and recreation is a form of business, but generates little tax-revenues for the community. Most recreational facilities are privately owned as they should be. Furthermore, it was not defined as to exactly what is “Recreational Economics?”
Economic development is facilitated by the Administration and is a function of what good City Administrations should do. There are many ways and means to facilitate businesses and their interests; downtown events that they sponsor are made out of the generosity and those expenses come out-of-profits.
Presently, there is little earnings / revenues garnished by the City for the activities that are presented within the downtown area. The cost of setting up, policing, monitoring and the auxiliary services are not cost effective.
Finally, there were other topics of interest but not effectively discussed: legacy costs, Public Safety not aligned with City Charter Ordinances, Needs Assessment was not reviewed but mentioned. There too was no discussions of the remedial actions needed within the Financial Department as previously defined by Plante and Moran in their Audit Report of June 30, 2015. Nothing was mentioned about existing Administration’s policies that are out- of-line with corporate mainstream benefits and compensation payments.
The Administration, Mayor, and Council are obligated to define the economic realities that define expenses and revenues and adjusted expenditures to available revenues. Any millage increase or renewal must be based upon fact and a through understanding of needs assessment of the city: this includes DPW, Police, and Fire Departments, and infrastructure needs.
The statement made by Councilman Rzeznik, “He would like to see us have a renewal with a sunset, but it would be nice to have a minor downward trend, like a quarter of a point, if we really sharpen our pencils during the budget process.
Understand this, taxpayers require that any renewal of millage with a sunset requires facts based on economic realities and supported with defined documentation. Goal setting sessions with future economies of Wixom based upon a “recreational based economy,” and additional downtown events to excite the popularity of the city does not generate a lot of confidence in the attainment of a future way for economic development. The expansion of the tax-base that generates tax-revenue within the community has to be greater than the Downtown area.
The Administration has the economic forecast that are available and the City Manager should use them and present a realistic Budget which may include reductions in personnel and / or restrictions in service capabilities. Taxpayers have been hit with increased assessments, increased food and drug costs, increased insurance costs and the list goes on. There is not a person, business, home or family that is not to some extent income deprived.
A recommendation: start sharpening the pencils. Hiring of additional full time employees, and expanding legacy costs are not in the best interest of the community or taxpayers.
The Goal setting minutes are available here: http://www.wixomgov.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=1679
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