Lawrence City Commission to review draft strategic plan that will guide city budget decisions

photo by: Mike Yoder

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured Thursday, July 7, 2016

City leaders will soon continue their discussion of the strategic plan that will guide budget decisions for the next two years.

As part of its work session Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will discuss three key pieces the strategic plan, which will update a plan created by the last commission in 2017. A draft of the plan includes goals related to the economy, environmental sustainability and addressing systemic racial injustice, among others.

In preparation for the eventual adoption of the plan, on Tuesday city staff will present a draft of the strategic plan’s commitments and outcomes for further commission discussion and ask whether any adjustments should be made, according to a city staff memo to the commission. The memo states that those aspects of the plan will help inform changes to the 2021 budget, development of the 2022 budget, and drive the day-to-day operations and deployment of staffing resources.

Though the city adopted the 2021 budget in August, significant conversations about the next year’s budget and changes to what has been laid out will actually occur next year. The city has described the 2021 budget as a placeholder because the commission will likely make amendments once it updates the strategic plan in the coming months, a process that was delayed because of the pandemic and a desire to account for calls for police and racial justice reforms.

In June, the city reopened community feedback on the strategic plan to see how racial justice movements and the pandemic have affected community priorities. The commission then discussed desired outcomes and commitments for the plan at a special meeting in July. At that time, commissioners said their goals would include addressing systemic racial injustice and investing in the well-being of all Lawrence residents, as the Journal-World previously reported.

The draft plan includes six commitments and five desired outcomes. The commitments are described in the draft plan as goals for the way the city conducts its work while the outcomes are described as important strategic outcomes necessary to achieve the commission’s vision for Lawrence.

The commitments comprise statements related to community engagement; efficient and effective processes; equity and inclusion; sound fiscal stewardship; staff engagement; and environmental sustainability. The outcomes comprise statements related to the city’s “unmistakable” identity; strong and welcoming neighborhoods; safety and security; prosperity and economic security; and infrastructure, asset management and connectivity. The prosperity and economic security states in part that the city “intentionally acknowledges, removes, and prevents barriers created by systemic and institutional injustice.” The entire draft strategic plan is available as part of the agenda materials.

The commission will not vote on the strategic plan as part of Tuesday’s work session, but an updated draft informed by the discussion will come back to the commission for adoption on Oct. 20, according to the memo. Once the commission adopts the plan, city staff will bring back work plans related to the various commitments and outcomes, as well as specific performance indicators for the outcomes that will be used to measure the city’s progress. The work plans will be reviewed in December, and the commission will thereafter receive regular progress updates.

The City Commission will convene virtually at 5:45 p.m., with limited staff in place at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The city has asked that residents participate in the meeting virtually if they are able to do so. Directions for submitting public comment and correspondence are included in the agenda that is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org.

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