In a prepared statement, candidates for Borough Council Astri Baillie and Ben Wolkowitz call for the initiation of strategic planning for the borough government.
People who choose Madison as their home do so because they recognize what a special place Madison is. Everyone wants to reside in a town that provides a safe place to live and raise a family. We all want good schools, good services, and good recreation. Madison has all these assets and more; however it will take careful planning, judgment and work to ensure that these assets evolve in the future, and at a price our residents can afford.
These days we are all especially conscious of value, making sure that our money is well spent. One method of contributing to doing just that is for the Borough to implement strategic planning. This process can give our residents confidence that our taxes are being spent wisely and in a way that is consistent with realizing the interests of all to the greatest extent possible, now and in the future.
Strategic planning is a process of defining a strategy, or direction, for an organization whether a company, a non-profit, or a government entity, such as the Borough of Madison. A strategic plan defines where an organization is going over the next year or—more typically—3 to 5 years. You build a plan and then the actions you take support the plan—they make it happen. Once a direction is agreed on then coherent decisions can be made on how to allocate resources so as to progress in that direction.
Recent events, for example the construction of turf fields at the Madison Recreation Center without a viable plan for paying for them, the piecemeal approach to the use of the 49 acres, which includes the Recreation Center, the deferral of the repair of number of well-traveled borough streets, and the disrepair of our sewage pumping stations, all point to the lack of a coherent strategic plan for our town.
Decisions are made without the benefit of a framework and a shared direction. Operating in this way is almost guaranteed to result in an inefficient allocation of taxpayer dollars. In extreme cases the lack of a strategic plan can have even more unfortunate results. The public firing of our Borough administrator justified by the need to save money is just such an example. Fortunately in that case the sense of decency and fairness of our residents forced a reversal of that incredibly misguided action.
The presence of a strategic plan will not guarantee that every decision that will be made is a good one. What it does is provide an objective rational framework in which decisions can be made. In the end how the plan is formulated and used depends on the skills, talents and experience of people who have a shared interest in doing what is best for Madison.
A white paper that provides additional detail on strategic planning is available on our website, www.madison-dems.org.