The year 2021 holds great promise for our community. It will be a time for recovery and reestablishing the path forward for our community over the next decade.
It began in part with the swearing in on Tuesday of four of us elected to serve in local government on behalf of our community, alongside three returning members of the City Council. Together this team is responsible for upholding the U.S. Constitution, Minnesota state statutes, the Northfield city ordinances, our City Comprehensive Plan, and our City Charter.
The first City Charter (which is like a mini “Constitution” for our city) was adopted more than 100 years ago. Over the years it has been updated many times, and was last updated and affirmed by the people of Northfield in 2001. The Charter establishes our Mayor-Council form of government. The mayor leads in the formulation of policy and is the chief executive officer of the city government, and the City Council determines matters of policy.
The primary policy goal of our city is stated in the Charter in the preamble, to “treat all of its citizens equally and with good order…” and under the powers of the city “to promote and protect the health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, and welfare of the inhabitants of the city….”
Our policy path is further established in our city Comprehensive Plan. This is the broadest policy document and “blueprint” for the future for our community. It covers everything from transportation, parks, sewer and water to economic development and housing. This year we will begin the process of updating this important policy document.
In addition to our Comprehensive Plan, we have many other City Council-adopted long-range planning documents that specifically guide the development of our parks, the arts, economic development, and climate action, to name a few.
During the first part of this year, we will begin the process of updating our 2017 Strategic Plan that will guide our work as a city over the next three to five years. This Strategic Plan — the City’s “work plan”— should tie into our City Charter, the Comprehensive Plan and various adopted policies and long-range plans. The Strategic Plan should also clearly articulate the priorities, goals, and initiatives to be worked on.
The mayor and council work with our chief administrative officer/city administrator, city staff, boards and commissions, and the general public to accomplish the Strategic Plan. Together we have been diligently completing the initiatives over the past three years. We have made significant progress and our community is better off as a result.
Over the coming year we will embark on a process to update these two major documents — the Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Plan — for our community. These documents together will serve as the foundation for charting our course over the next decade and beyond.
Yogi Berra said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t get there.”
Through these documents, we will decide where we want to go. I hope that you will join with us in their development.