The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 8, 2014

Clinton's 2014 strategic plan still a murky picture

CLINTON — The first order of business for the new Clinton City Council wasn't to implement a new city ordinance; it wasn't to approve a resolution; nor was it to channel a public hearing.

During Tuesday's 2014 Strategic Planning Session, the council's first experience working together wasn't even strategic planning. Instead, under direction by Human Resources rep Paul Greufe, the first time councilmembers coordinated anything as a whole was through a collective effort to piece something together: A 30-page children's book.

"This is intended to be frustrating," Greufe said after the council took 45 minutes to complete the team-building exercise. He added he's worked with other councils that "simply give up."

Three hours, a lunch break and a small group session later (the latter included department heads), Clinton's city leaders were given another challenge: Piece together a city plan.

The ensuing discussion hardly resembled child's play. Few directives were hammered out.

Above all, councilmembers old and new seemed to agree the city's finances need a steadier hand.

"I don’t care what direction we go in," Ward 3 Councilman Ed O'Neill said. "But we need to do business differently than what we’ve been doing the last six years because what we’re doing isn’t working."

When asked for ideas to maintain and improve the city’s financial position, councilmembers listed 13 strategies, including developing a five-year plan and implementing a “$1 million cash reserve.” This prompted a lengthy discussion about where city leaders stand on the situation, with pointed questions as to why Clinton operates as it currently does.

This was the basis for why Ward 4 Councilman John Rowland proposed the city hire an agency to study why it’s continually at risk.

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