MONTROSE – Montrose County's Strategic Plan – a living document that outlines goals and measures progress – was recently updated to better reflect what the county can and is doing to achieve its priorities, according to county officials.
"It's really helpful to have result-based information so citizens know exactly what we are trying to achieve," said Stephanie Barnett, Montrose County internal services director, of the Strategic Plan, which “spotlights why we are doing [certain things] and if it is working. It helps us refine how and why we do business, and it really changes the way you think and look at business."
The plan, which contains citizen-driven priorities, was adopted in July 2011. The county reviews the document annually, tweaking it based on what has been accomplished and learned in the past year.
The recent changes, adopted June 18, better reflect the county's role in economic development (in accordance with statutory law), adds new measurables for economic growth and updates the plan based on newly administered programs within the county, Barnett said.
The plan includes five priorities: To manage growth and economic development of Montrose County; improve and maintain a safe transportation system; provide for the public safety; effective and responsive government; and increase citizen engagement and represent local interests.
So far, the county has revised that first priority so that what first just encouraged economic growth now has directives in alignment with what the county is legally allowed to do.
"We highlighted things that we can do because we found out last year how limited we are to the [Colorado] State Statute," Barnett said.
The revisions include setting a goal to increase the number of two-day events at Montrose County Fairgrounds from 16 to 24 by 2016, and also increasing the number of indoor events.
"If we can bring more out-of-town people here, we are going to see more impact," she said.
The previous priority five, which supported environmentally healthy business operations, has been absorbed into priority four: effective and responsive government. Barnett said such parameters as going paperless and minimizing energy use can be reached internally.
Priority five was then revised to increase citizen engagements and representation.
The Inside Montrose County Class, a program offering citizens information about county departments and services, has achieved its goals, she said, although, she emphasized, the county wants citizens' opinions to be represented at the state and federal levels, as well.
With the majority of Montrose County acreage actually consisting of state and federal lands, making sure citizens are heard on issues regarding public lands is important, Barnett said, making the education of citizens on county public lands’ issues a high priority.
"We want to make sure citizens are aware so we can represent their opinions," Barnett said.
This year, the county considered the Strategic Plan when developing its budget.
This change includes budget line items within departments that now highlight projects rather than materials. For example, the Public Works Department now record how much gravel it uses for a specific project, rather than having a "gravel" budget line item for the entire department.
"The goal is to really capture how much you are spending on these different activities," she said.
The county has committed to conducting the Strategic Plan process every five years. To that end, in 2015, citizens will randomly be chosen to participate in focus groups that once again evaluate what the county is doing and what citizens want, so that the plan continues to be a living document, guiding operations and projects.
"We are really creating a total package," Barnett said.
"It is about looking to drive results and being held to those standards."