The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 23, 2014

Kinser active on council's priorities

By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Nearly two months after finalizing the city of Clinton’s strategic plan, numerous projects based on those goals are beginning to work their way onto the council’s agenda.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser said she has taken the council’s objectives seriously after the plan took more than four months to be finalized. Now that specific items are spelled out, she’s pleased with her administration’s progress on tackling a number of items.

“We’re really just two months into this, and I feel like we’re on track,” Kinser said. “I’ve done what I intended to do, which was be ambitious from the starting point. I want these actions to be very deliberative. I’m not doing something which the council hasn’t already acted on and told me is a priority.”

Two of the biggest priorities labeled by city leaders were to redesign the city’s website and to establish an organized committee to comb through Clinton’s finances. Those initiatives are set to take major steps within the next month. The council issued a request for proposals for the website on June 10 and will read a finance committee ordinance on Tuesday.

Other items — creating a whistleblower policy, steps toward governmental openness, eliminating certain subcommittees — have also received council ruling or at least significant attention. Kinser credited a reformatted strategic plan structure as the basis for why the city is taking strides toward seeing the goals through.

“I saw how well this worked in another organization,” she said, holding up a sheet listing the goals. Each item has a date affixed for when she expects to complete them. The council has created strategic plans in years passed, but the new format puts the city on deadline.

“We do need deadlines,” Kinser said. “We do need thing to keep us on track. It’s increasing the accountability of myself to my bosses on the council and accountability for the council to the citizens.”

Kinser has yet to receive public feedback on the work being done, but she expects more to take notice when items like the website redesign take shape. Other items that will appear may be harder to notice. Kinser said they’re part of a larger picture that hopefully will lead to an improved and informative budgeting process.

She will present a formal report to the council during one of its July meetings updating them on strategic plan progress. Already, the new process has made her and the council more accountable, Kinser said.

“I want to make sure there’s agreement on why I’m doing something and why we’re doing something as a city,” she said. “This is one where everybody knows they have something assigned.”

Kinser and City Clerk Pat Van Loo also are in the process of starting a citizens’ academy designed as a classroom for the public to obtain knowledge of Clinton city government. As with the strategic plan, Kinser hopes “a more cohesive way in which we’re working with the public” can come out of it.