The Pekin City Council Monday, in a straw poll, gave City Manager Tony Carson the approval to seek requests for proposals for a facilitator to lead the Council in developing a strategic plan.

The Council told Carson and Administrative Services Director Mark Rothert to request the proposals with various amenities. The two will then bring the proposals back to Council to determine what it will have the facilitator do and how much the Council is willing to spend. Carson said services for a strategic plan could cost $10,000 to $50,000, depending on what is included. The Council was provided with a list of items usually included in a strategic plan facilitators scope of work. The Council prioritized what items it was interested in and what items staff and Council could do on their own.

A strategic plan for a city, said Carson, is only second in importance to the budget.

“A strategic plan is not something normally done in-house,” said Carson. “That is not a process done independently by Council by itself, by staff by itself or the community by itself.”

Councilman Mark Luft was not at the meeting. Mayor John McCabe said he will bring him up to date Tuesday and get his input.

At this point, though much is yet to be decided and everything is subject to change, the Council looked at task assignments associated with the study and how those assignments could save money on the facilitator costs.

In brief, the mission and vision statement would be the work of the Council and the public. A public meeting would be held in the community for input. The facilitator and city staff would work together to identify stakeholders in the community — such as non-profits, churches, businesses, civic groups, elected officials and so on — that would have input. The staff and the facilitator would do an environmental scan of national trends that could impact the city — such as state, federal and local governments — and find ways to work together.

In addition, the staff would take on the role of preparing budget projections, looking at budget performance over the past three to five years and looking at projections on revenues and expenses for three to five years down the road. Identifying goals of what the city hopes to achieve over the next three to five years would be the job of the facilitator and staff with final approval of those goals left to the Council.

The timeline for goals to be completed, the cost of bringing those goals to fruition and assigning someone to make sure the items are completed would fall to city staff to identify.

Council made it clear that it did not want the facilitator to coach the Council on policy making, Council/staff relations, Council/citizen relations, conflict management and consensus building — one of the items included in the list for RFPs.

Carson told the Council that the strategic planning process would not be a quick project. The most recent plan was in 2011 and was completed in three hours. It was simply a list of 70-plus items, a wish list, of what Council wanted to see done. Some Council members were concerned that the strategic plan would sit on a shelf.

McCabe said an efficiency study was conducted two years ago, and after it was completed, when Council members did not agree with what was in the study, it was shelved.

Carson said the efficiency study has been very helpful to him and it has been used.

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