City officials may still commit to forming a strategy to identify and achieve long-term goals, but they won’t hire outside consultants for the purpose.

“That’s not going to happen anytime soon,” Mayor John McCabe said Wednesday.

The idea was tabled after enough City Council members have said they don’t want to pay the estimated $25,000 that a professional strategic planning firm would charge for its services, McCabe said.

Instead, he and City Manager Tony Carson “started kicking around ideas” for development of a multi-year plan without professional assistance when they met Tuesday to review items to place on the agenda for the council’s next meeting Monday, he said.

Before that meeting, McCabe said the agenda might include consideration of offers from two consulting groups. They were among 16 the city received after the council in August authorized city staff to solicit bids from professional planners.

The bids ranged as high as $100,000. The two groups chosen for final consideration offered costs of $23,750 and $28,000. That was too much for some council members, McCabe said.

While the city currently is working with outside consultants on plans to renovate the Derby Street corridor, it’s using a $25,000 grant from the Tri-County Regional Planning Committee to pay for most of the work.

McCabe said he remains committed to developing a long-term plan for the city and identifying financial resources to achieve its goals. However, “We’ll do some well-worked-out strategies internally,” he said.

Prior to the agenda meeting Tuesday with Carson and other administrative staff, McCabe emphasized his preference for professional help in strategy development.
He recalled a five-year plan the city developed internally in 2006 that produced little action and few results.

“It wasn’t very deep. There were ideas, but no real sense of how to accomplish them and no real set of priorities,” McCabe said.

That’s a result he hopes the current council and city staff will avoid if and when they try the process on their own again.

With the two consulting groups’ offers pulled from council’s last meeting agenda and left out of next week’s meeting, the council has yet to discuss the group’s proposed planning methods. Those included seeking involvement from city “stakeholders,” including businesses, seniors, faith groups and schools.

Whether the council and staff will include that involvement in an internally generated planning approach remains undetermined.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin