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Mapping the future of Turlock

POSTED February 4, 2011 10:36 p.m.

After being forced into a reactionary mode for years, with declining tax revenues and state cuts causing tough budgetary decisions, the Turlock City Council will attempt to become proactive with a new effort to establish a two to four year roadmap for the City of Turlock.

The Turlock City Council will meet from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on March 14 for a working session to develop a new strategic plan for Turlock.

The meeting isn’t intended to become a budgetary session focusing on this year’s cuts, but instead to be more forward-looking and optimistic – a luxury not afforded to the City of Turlock in recent years.

“The current strategic plan has expired,” said City Manager Roy Wasden. “We've been in a cut, cut, cut scenario. What is the focus to accomplish, the focus of the council? What can we do in the next two years?”

The current plan, running from 2007 through 2009, was adopted by the council on Feb. 12, 2008. That’s a long time ago in the ever-changing City of Turlock.

Lazar is the only council member to remain from that time period. Six of 10 top city staff members –city manager, assistant city manager, city attorney, fire chief, city clerk, and director of Administrative Services – have either left the city since then or gone on a leave of absence.

“It's been a tough couple years, no doubt about it,” Wasden said.

“I would say crisis mode,” Councilwoman Mary Jackson said.

The council will likely not throw out the existing strategic plan wholesale, but will instead modify the document to reflect Turlock’s current priorities.

Staff will offer input on the plan in February, while council will provide feedback prior to the March meeting.  The ensuing planning session will bring together top members of city staff along with the full council and union representatives in one room for a frank discussion of the future of Turlock.

 “What we need to do is identify our necessities for our constituents,” Vice Mayor Amy Bublak said. “… If we sit down and say these are important, these services we're not going to cut from, we have to make that decision as a board.”

The policy-setting strategic plan will not address specific budgetary issues, but is likely to serve as a guide as the council drafts a budget.  In the future, the plan will be reviewed each January by the council for revisions.

Despite the enthusiasm for an updated strategic plan, members of the council offer differing opinions as to what accomplishments might be realistic for the City of Turlock in the next few years.

“I'm real pessimistic,” said Councilman Forrest White. “I say survive.

“I think it's great to plan for the future three to five years out, but I think we're going to be in more of a reactive mode for the next two years.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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