Twin Falls

Twin Falls Deals with the Price of Planning

2013-01-04T02:00:00Z 2013-12-19T16:51:17Z Twin Falls Deals with the Price of PlanningBy Melissa Davlin - Twin Falls Times-News

TWIN FALLS • It takes vision and planning to grow a city. But what does it take and how much does it cost to put that vision to work?

In 2012, the city of Twin Falls started working with a consultant to develop a strategic plan that will define how the city will grow.

The city estimates it will spend between $32,000 and $35,000 on the strategic plan, said Joshua Palmer, public information officer for the city of Twin Falls.

Most of that money goes to consulting group Kushlan and Associates, though some of the money covers supplies and meeting costs, Palmer said.

The last time the city did a wide-spread strategic plan in 2006, it cost $23,040, Palmer said.

Why the price difference?This plan is broader and more in-depth, Palmer said.

The city updates its existing strategic plans every year, bringing in consultants every two years for a larger update.

This is a different approach, Palmer said. The city is now creating a master plan — which is why they’re taking so much time on it — and basing all work over the next several years off the plan. There will be updates, Palmer said, but not like in the past.

“This one’s going to be certainly revisited a lot more than previous plans. It’s kind of a master document,”Palmer said.

Consultant Phil Kushlan of Kushlan and Associates worked with city staff and the council to create the document, balancing ambitious goals with realistic parameters.

Some goals are vague — such as “Support the street re-construction program”and “Research opportunities to fund public transportation” —while others are more specific — like providing bi-monthly firefighter essentials training.

Previous plans also brought up long-term goals, like developing new parks through 2020, but focused more on immediate issues, such as addressing short-comings in the sewer system.

Another difference in the plan:The city sought out public input for this plan instead of relying on city staff and council to cobble it together. Kushlan, city staff and council members sent out citizen surveys, held public meetings and put together citizen interest groups.

“It drills down deeper into what we need to do to achieve what citizens want to see,”Palmer said.

After the city puts out its final draft, expected in the next few months, council members and staff will visit with civic clubs and other community groups to get more input.

Mayor Greg Lanting, who has helped with other strategic plans, said he enjoyed this process more.

“I never thought we had enough community input on the previous ones,”he said.

Councilman Shawn Barigar agreed. This plan is more assertive with laying out plans for the future, Barigar said.

“I think that the document we’re creating really is forward-thinking,” Barigar said. “It really is more of a strategic plan where you’re aiming at where do we want to be in the next 20 years, as opposed to the work plan for the next couple of years.”

Barigar encouraged the public to give their input during the public comment period after the final draft comes out.

“It is nice to have more voices at the table,”he said.

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