Henderson City Manager, Ray Griffin: City Council Mid-Term Retreat

Mayor O’Geary, Members of City Council, City Manager and Administrative staff participated in a mid-term retreat on Thursday, 23 August 2012, at the Aycock Recreation Complex in Henderson, NC.  The purposes of the Retreat were to: 1) build and foster team work; 2) review roles and responsibilities of elected officials and city manager; and  3) review status of  the Strategic Plan and its related action plans.  Ms. Rebecca Veazey, MAPS Group, served as the Retreat facilitator.

Ms. Veazey utilized the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator process as a means to facilitate the team building session.  Outcomes of this process included a broader understanding of how different people perceive information and communicate with others the value of a diverse team of individuals in order to maximize successful results.   The Council has decided to utilize this process on several items of interests at its January, 2013 Retreat.

 In 2008, the Mayor and City Council established its first Agreement on Roles and Responsibilities of the  Mayor,  City Council and City Manager.   Each year since, Council reviews this Agreement and amends it accordingly. Mayor O’Geary stated, “I feel it is because of  this  Agreement on  Roles  and  Responsibilities that  the  Mayor,  Council  Members, City Manager and Senior Staff work so well together.  I am very proud of the strong team oriented working partnership we all share.”

 The City Council developed its first Strategic Plan in March, 2009.  As part of that process, eight Key Strategic Objectives were approved in order to focus attention on key areas of concern and/or interest of the Council and community.   For instance, Key Strategic Objectives are focused on process improvement, reducing crime, enhancing economic development, improving housing stock and neighborhoods, maintaining and improving infrastructure, retaining qualified municipal workforce, expanding  leisure services and providing sufficient resources for City services.

A summary of accomplishments achieved since March 2009 were reviewed by the Mayor and Council during the Retreat. A summary of the key achievements include, but not limited to the following:

KSO 1:  Process Improvement

1.  Developing a Strategic Plan and reviewing and updating it each  year during annual retreat.

2.  Developing and fostering a climate encouraging of process improvement.   Notable examples include automating the timesheet and budgetary development processes, forming the Code Impact Enforcement Team and sanitation privatization.

3.  Implementing 4-year staggered terms for Mayor and Councilmembers

KSO 2:  Reduce Crime

4.  Increasing number of active, viable Community Watch Organizations from 14 in 2008 to 29 in 2011.

5.  Developing on-going, positive working relationships with local media, property owners and managers and utility providers as a means to better fight crime.  The violent crime rate has gone down for the third year in a row.

6.  Implementation of Geographic Policing as a means to better fight crime.

7.  Development of  “Business  Watch”  as  a  means  to  help  businesses better protect themselves and their customers against crime.

KSO 3:  Enhanced Economic Development

8.  Working with Vance County to re-form the Economic Development Commission (EDC) and bring the City back to the table as a full strategic partner in economic development planning and decision making.   The City has participated with Vance County and the EDC in notable projects such as the expansion and relocation of Optimum Lighting, expansion of  Vescom,  and  location  of  new  businesses such  as  Thermo  King  and Semprius.

9.  Implemented conditional  use  zoning  and  approved  the  first  major  update  to  the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

10. Continued efforts to obtain a passenger rail station and stops on the proposed high speed rail system.   This long-term goal is on-going and still in the State and Federal governments planning stages.

KSO 4: Improve Housing Stock and Neighborhoods

11. Demolition of vacant, dilapidated housing.   Since 2008, 158 structures/dwelling units have been demolished, including Beacon Light.

12. Redevelopment of downtown via two Hope 6 grants, a public-private partnership, that provided 24  housing units unused downtown buildings’  second and third floors and support for the REEF project.  $2M in HUD grants plus private property financial contributions have resulted in the completion of 21 new apartments in downtown.

KSO 5:  Reliable Infrastructure

13. Development of a multi-year utilities capital improvements plan and pushing forward with planned renovations to the wastewater plant and expansion of the water treatment



14. Major infrastructure upgrades to the water distribution and sewer collections systems as evidenced by work to replace 2″ water lines, install radio read meters, replace Sandy Creek Lift Station, continued work to rehabilitate sanitary sewer lines, etc. Bids will be taken in September 2012 for the major renovation and reconstruction of the wastewater treatment facility. The estimated costs for this project is $16M- $17M.  Expansion of the Water Plant is expected to occur in 2015 or 2016.

KSO 6: Retain Qualified Municipal Workforce

15. Develop the City Academy

KSO 7: Expand Leisure Services

16. Development of trails and renovations to Fox Pond Park is on-going, as is planning with a broader regional team for the high speed rail/greenway project.

KSO 8:  Provide Sufficient Funding/or Services

17. Continued growth in the undesignated fund balance. The goal is to achieve 30% of general fund budget for undesignated reserves and, at the close of FY11  on 30 June 2011, the percentage was 13.9%.   It is expected FY12 Audit figures will show an increase in this percentage rate.  The City’s fund balance fell from about $4.5M in 2000 to $22,268 in FY05 and is at $1.98M at the end ofFY11.

18. Since FY08, the City has obtained $13.9M in grants and $20.1M  low/no interest loans for water and sewer infrastructure.

19. Renegotiation of Joint City-County programs’ agreements for Emergency Operations 911

Center, Library, Economic Development Commission and Board of Elections that are saving the City approximately $139,130 for FY13, and an estimated cumulative total of

$309,490 since the agreements were approved in FYI 0.

Action plans identified and planned for work in the Fall include:

KSO 1: Process Improvement

1.  Developing a Brand for the City

2.  Improving citizen engagement

KSO 3:  Economic Development

3.   One-stop permitting

KSO 7:  Expand Leisure Services

4.  Developing sports tourism


Action plans that have been identified and remain opportunities for future progress include:

KSO 3:  Economic Development

1.  Revising and updating the land use and sign codes

2.   Developing a comprehensive annexation plan

KSO 6:  Retain Qualified Municipal Workforce

3.  Performing a pay-classification plan for City employees

KSO 8:  Provide Sufficient Funding for Services

4.   Creating and funding Fleet and Information Technology funds


1.    2012-2014 Strategic Plan Mid-Year Report, 23 Aug 12 (21 pages)