After three months and 14 public input sessions, Mayor Grover Robinson’s transitional team is out with its recommendations for the city’s long-term well-being.
In the 90-page report, the dozen team members are offering 55 recommendations as part of cobbling together a united strategic plan in 11 areas — such as public safety, finance and budget, education, the environment and transparency. During the Mayor’s weekly news conference Chairman Quint Studer said the findings are based on three criteria: mission, vision and values.
“If you take this report and look at retribution, that’s not what this is about,” said Studer. “This is about getting feedback; just like a football team would look at their feedback and say, ‘OK, what can we learn from this, and how can we provide people the skills to be successful?’”
Addressing one of the areas in the report, Studer said a major need for the city of Pensacola will be funding.
“You either increase revenue or reduce expenses,” Studer says. “We’ve been very fortunate, if you read the report, that our assessed property values are going up [and] we have investment coming in. But we’ve still got to figure out at times how to access government money, government funds for various things.”
It’s all about learning something new, says Studer, putting in the time to get up to speed and then to putting it into practice. Also dealing with such changes.
“Because if all you’ve done it is ‘this way,’ think of yourself when your company gets a new software system; how difficult that is, a period of transition,” said Studer. “I think our report will keep Mayor Robinson busy for the first term. This isn’t a short-term think at all.”
Nothing in the report is expected to be implemented overnight, especially when the transition also involves new faces at City Hall. So, Studer encourages resident to have patience.
“Mission, vision and values take a while, because you want all of the employees to weigh in on it; that takes three to four months to get through that,” says Studer. “Then a strategic plan takes some time; adjusting the structure takes some time, making sure your right measurement takes some time. If your started training in skill development right now, people can only take so much.”
“There’s no doubt that there’s [sic] certainly some changes we had to get,” said Mayor Grover Robinson. “We had to feel like everybody was – as Quint said – in the same boat and we’re all going in the same direction.”
Robinson added that priority one is having leadership that’s on the same page of the hymnal. He also addressed replacing the old ways of doing business to new methods – what the Mayor calls “consciously incompetent.”
“The part is to realize that we will eventually get competency as we move forward,” the Mayor said. “The goal is eventually to get where we’re unconsciously competent. If we do it and do the right thing without having to think about it, that’s what we want to be doing. Even the Mayor himself can get someone on the path until he gets conscience of the fact that he’s incompetent. And that’s OK.”
Robinson credits City Administrator Chris Holley with helping set the new standard for city workers, through a simple message.
“We understand that this is different; it may be a little bit challenging, but all we want from you is 100 percent commitment,” Robinson said. “I don’t expect 100 percent perfect, I just want 100 percent effort. If we get perfect effort, we’ll eventually get to where perform at the right level.”
Release of the transition team’s findings, says Chairman Quint Studer, is just the beginning of the overall process. The ball is now in the city’s court.
“I also think that Mayor Robison at City Council meetings will keep people up to date, said Studer. “And I have great confidence in the media, that you’ll keep this report in front of you and check the boxes were progress is being made.”
One of the proposed actions moving forward is a yearly engagement survey with all city staff – budgeted and implemented on a yearly basis. Another is to repair the working relationship between the Mayor’s office and City Council – which was often contentious in the previous administration.