Progress has been slow since Pekin’s City Council took its first step in August toward creating a long-term plan for the city’s goals and finances.

That may be appropriate. Making such a commitment quickly could lead to inadequate results and efforts to pursue them, as recent history has shown.

Council members, however, have not yet formally stated they’re committed to pursuing a strategic plan or to the need to hire a professional service to help them develop it.

The time for that will come possibly as soon as next Monday, if Mayor John McCabe places on the council’s meeting agenda consideration of two planning groups’ offers for the estimated six-month project.

That item was set for discussion at the last meeting Nov. 27 before McCabe pulled it off as the meeting began.

“I thought it needed further investigation,” he said Tuesday. “There were (still) a lot of questions from the council, and we didn’t have a presentation” from the groups scheduled for the meeting.

Council members have informally worked with city staff on the issue, but only to identify two finalists from among 16 planning groups who submitted offers that the council in August agreed to seek, McCabe said.

“One of the (council’s) main concerns was cost,” he said. The planners’ bids came with price tags ranging from $20,000 to about $100,000.

If and when the council commits to working with a consulting group, it likely will be either Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies or Good Governing Group LLC of Illinois, headed by Scot Wrighton, an educator in municipal management and current city manager of Streator.

The NIU group submitted a bid of $23,750. Good Governing would provide the service for $28,000.

In outlining plans and goals for the city extending five years out or longer, both groups stated they would seek involvement from the city’s “stakeholders” as well as from elected leaders and administrators. NIU identified the former as “businesses, seniors, athletic associations, faith groups and schools.”

McCabe said building a strategic plan without professional assistance might produce results no better than what city leaders and staff accomplished in such an effort 11 years ago.

“Our last five-year plan in 2006 was basically shelved and forgotten about,” he said. “It wasn’t very deep. There were ideas, but no real sense of how to accomplish them and no real set of priorities.”

Pekin “needs a clear direction, a vision, and people on board who want to work together,” McCabe said. “Otherwise, you’re just being reactive” in dealing with ongoing city issues.

The city currently is using a $25,000 government grant to employ two consulting firms to help develop plans to improve and modernize Derby Street. McCabe said that project could mesh with the goals contained in an overall strategic plan.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin