JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — With a majority-new City Council on board as of Jan. 10, new approaches to governance are being forged in Johns Creek.
City Manager Ed Densmore has plans to host an annual City Council retreat at the beginning of each year to establish strategic priorities.
Similar retreats have been hosted in the past, but Densmore is determined to make them consistent, starting with a two-day retreat on Jan. 28 and 29.
“We’re in a unique situation right now where we have at least a majority of new council members,” Densmore said. “It’s a chance for them to set the strategic goals for the city both short and long term. Once they set that overall strategic plan, then what we do is set the budget according to their goals.”
This timeline, Densmore hopes, will ensure the City Council’s goals and the staff’s initial budget are align.
“You can accomplish more when everybody’s working towards a common goal, and that’s what I’m really looking for is… staff and council working in a more harmonious fashion,” Densmore said. “It’s more of a team approach than two separate entities trying to accomplish the same thing.”
Densmore will serve as coach during the two days, making sure council members are up to date on operating budgets for departments as well as budget procedures.
Assistant City Manager Kimberly Greer, City Attorney Ron Bennett and a facilitator from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government will join elected officials at the retreat.
New council members have already begun acclimating themselves to city government. They spent the day, Dec. 14, at City Hall meeting department heads and asking questions.
“Unless you provide that opportunity, it doesn’t really exist down the road because the council is part time, and then they’re just coming in on Mondays for the council meetings,” Densmore said. “Unless you’re on the docket to have something presented, they might go five, six months and never have the fire chief give a presentation on something.”
Both the retreat and the Dec. 14 meeting will work in tandem to provide new council members with a deeper understanding of Johns Creek government.
“We have this awesome opportunity sitting here, so let’s seize it…” Densmore said. “It makes everything much easier if everybody knows what their jobs are and what we’re trying to accomplish, so it will be my ask every year.”