The City of Naperville is creating a three-year plan to prioritize resources for services and programs. The idea is to create strategies within the city’s mission statement based on responses to a survey. The goal is to present a strategic plan to the public June 7th and August 10th, with adoption of the final plan October 19th.
Surveys are available online, and paper copies can be obtained at the Municipal Center, libraries, Riverwalk Community Center, Fort Hill Activity Center, and the 95th St. Center.
Categories to be surveyed include the following, with multiple choices to choose from within each category:
- What do you want to be able to say about Naperville 10 years from now?
- Naperville’s greatest strengths.
- Naperville’s biggest challenges.
- Which city services should receive the most emphasis from city leaders.
- Which police services should receive the most emphasis from city leaders.
- Fire and emergency services.
- Engineering services and public services.
- Environmental sustainability initiatives.
- Transportation services.
- Electric utility services.
- Water and wastewater services.
The City hired Shockey Consulting to conduct the survey and analysis for $124,520. In the grand scheme of Naperville’s budget, $124K isn’t that much, but it’s still $124K that didn’t need to be spent to accomplish the same goal. Why not do it in-house? It’s not that difficult to create the categories and multiple choices within each category. Then simply tabulate the responses and present them to city leaders. It’s not that difficult.
In fact, why not use the process as a learning opportunity for high school students, allowing them to participate in local government. Talented high school students represent a wealth of untapped resources for city leaders including the city council; they can be mentors to future leaders. Mayor Steve Chirico is a perfect example of a Naperville Central student who became a future leader. It’s very possible, if not likely, that there is a Naperville high school student right now, who will some day become our future Mayor. Others may become our city manager, or city attorney, or any other department head. Why not tap that talent and make it happen now.
Take that $124K and use it for something beneficial to residents; hire another police officer.
I will point out that nothing is free. Time spent by city employees working on this survey is time they can not spend addressing current city needs and residents concerns.
Even using high school student comes at a cost. They will need resources to do this survey like software to collect and analysis this data, supervision to make sure they stay on course and on schedule, and guidance by people with skills and experience in do this type of work. None of which will be free.
Finally there is the time cost or lose due to the learning curve involved with this type of work. A learning curve that professional consultants that do this type of work have not only already achieved but that also spend time regularly receiving continuing education in this type of work on the latest and greatest procedures and methodologies in this field.
There is an old saying “you get what you pay for”. If you want a quality professional result to use in planning the city’s guidance and policies for the next 10 years then you have to pay for it. If you are okay with using the work of novices and inexperience amateurs to use in making these kind of plans and decisions then you must also be okay with novice and amateur 10 year plan for our city. Which do you think will provide the best possible future for our community?