Dubuque County officials could revisit a planning process launched nearly a decade ago as they place increased emphasis on setting priorities.
Supervisor Ann McDonough said at a July 22 work session that she supports reviewing the Dubuque County Smart Plan. That work will go along with updating strategic planning recommendations as the board positions itself to increase its emphasis on setting priorities.
“Some of strategic planning and priority setting for me is knowing the criteria of deciding how we’re going to spend money,” McDonough said. “I want to look inside that comprehensive plan.”
Work on the Dubuque County Regional Smart Plan began in 2010, when the county was awarded an $89,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Representatives from the county and the cities of Asbury, Cascade, Dubuque, Dyersville, Epworth, Farley and Peosta, as well as the Dubuque Soil and Water Conservation District, helped develop the plan. The plan included recommendations for several aspects of life in the county, including economic development, transportation and education.
Some aspects of the plan calling for sustainable and cooperative growth throughout the county were met with opposition by county residents.
During the work session, Dubuque County Human Resources Administrator Dawn Sherman introduced a possible process to develop board priorities. Taken in stages over several months, Sherman said the framework could be completed in time for county departments to develop their annual budgets.
McDonough voiced support instead for building upon existing planning work.
“I’m not sure I want to start over,” she said.
Supervisor Dave Baker said he agreed that the existing planning document was due for a review.
“I see this as a blueprint,” he said. “Having the blueprint there is good, but we can’t always predict what we’re going to be dealing with in six months.”
Baker said examples of unforeseen issues include the county’s efforts to keep Flexsteel Industries in Dubuque.
McDonough said some priority setting could be accomplished with increased collaboration and communication among the supervisors when creating the board’s meeting agendas.
Supervisor Jay Wickham said the board’s size poses a challenge for collaboration outside of meetings — whenever two members meet a quorum is established, and public meetings laws come into play.
“It’s a challenge of a three-person board,” Wickham said. “A three-person board is great for making decisions. It’s difficult for collaboration and communication.”
McDonough suggested the board add time for collaboration discussions into its regular meeting agendas.