BY SARAH GREGORY
One by one, goals set by the Town of Greeneville's Vision 20/20 Organizational Effectiveness action group have been met or significant progress is being made toward realization.
That was the message coming out of the group's Wednesday afternoon meeting at Greeneville Town Hall.
"Our group is doing a lot," said City Administrator Todd Smith, who serves as facilitator for the group.
"In the fall, we may want to sit down and review the goals -- maybe set some new challenges for us -- because a lot of these, we have completed and put to bed," he told the small group of volunteers gathered for the session, which lasted just over an hour.
A NUMBER OF GOALS
The Organizational Effectiveness action group is tasked with encouraging effective public services through cooperation, participation, and communication, according to an official outline of the group's goals.
There are six overall goals, with a number of strategies for achieving them and criteria to measure their success.
The six goals are:
* revise Greeneville's charter by June 2014 to improve efficiencies and enhance service delivery;
* deploy an effective website by February 2013 and utilize other social media tools to communicate with citizens;
* build a community calendar of events that promotes a cross-section of community, entertainment, sporting, and other events within Greeneville;
* develop budget strategies by the end of fiscal year 2013 that anticipate future challenges and opportunities, including capital projects;
* analyze departments, joint ventures, utility partners, and other non-profit service providers to strengthen service delivery and reduce costs;
* incorporate customer service into the Town's culture; and,
* identify a process to capture additional grant opportunities.
A 'REPORT CARD'
At the meeting's start, Smith said he scheduled the gathering just to "get the group together" and go over what he described informally as a "report card" of progress made so far.
"I'm very pleased with the progress we're making," he said. "I think we've done quite a bit."
One goal that has seen significant progress toward completion is the objective of revising the Town's charter, he said.
Significant progress toward the ultimate measure of success -- completed amendments to the Town's charter -- has been made.
A number of proposed charter changes were identified in the review process and considered by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Three lengthy public workshops were held in February and March to review and discuss the proposed changes and gather input from the board and from interested citizens.
Smith said that further work on the charter has temporarily been on hold because of the need to focus on development of the fiscal year 2014 budget.
However, work on the charter is expected to be back in focus after the budget is completed.
Smith said he expects the issue of charter revision to be picked back up in July or August.
If so, the approval by the board and submission to the state Legislature -- via David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville -- could happen in fall or early winter, in time for the legislative session that begins in January 2014.
WEBSITE, SOCIAL MEDIA
Smith said he gives credit to Town Public Relations Specialist Amy Rose for a great deal of progress toward a new, effective website and a significant increase in social media presence for the Town.
The content on the existing website has been reviewed, and a new website is in the works.
Smith said that the Greeneville City School System has been "gracious" enough to play a key role in realizing the goal by building a new website for Greeneville.
Smith credited Rose with much progress toward realizing the goal by reviewing the existing site's content, establishing Facebook and Twitter social media site profiles for the Town, and integrating those profiles with the existing website.
Town ordinances are already published on the site, and, when proposedrevisions to the charter are finalized, that document will be placed on the site for the public's reference as well.
Smith said that Stuart Cowles, an employee of the Greeneville Police Department, has worked with department heads on training that will allow them to add updates to the site.
Smith said it is his hope that Greeneville's new website will be able to be deployed in the coming weeks.
The measure of success for the website and social media goals, he said, was a 10 percent increase in website traffic, 500 "likes" on Facebook, and 100 "followers" on Twitter by February 2013.
Smith said that goal was "blown out of the water," with Greeneville's Facebook profile accumulating more than 1,000 likes and more than 230 Twitter followers added.
The third strategy the Organizational Effectiveness group is tasked with is creation of a community calendar of events.
Volunteer Michelle Harmon, who was at the meeting, has been working to help identify the best possible forum for the calendar.
Harmon commented on the disadvantage of not having a thorough calendar, in that organizations hosting events are often not aware of other events happening simultaneously.
Having multiple events going on at the same time can impede success as individuals who may wish to attend multiple events may not be able to do so.
Discussion on the topic covered different options, such as an online calendar published on Greeneville's website and Facebook and Twitter profiles, and printed calendars, distributed in publications such as The Greeneville Sun and The Greeneville Neighbor or in stand-alone brochures or pamphlets.
Further investigation into the options and their costs will be required before implementation can take place, but group members seemed to have a consensus that such a calendar is needed and would be useful.
CAPITAL BUDGET PLAN
The group's fourth goal of developing budget strategies that anticipate challenges and opportunities and creating plans for capital projects is also well under way, Smith reported.
In 2012, Smith said, he conducted a comprehensive review to identify capital needs.
A number of needs were then shortlisted and prioritized by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen with assistance from the Town's Budget and Finance Committee.
Discussion about the capital budget plan has continued in 2013, including in Tuesday's meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen.
On Tuesday, the board approved expenditure of more than $728,000 from the Town's fund balance for the purchase of a fire engine -- the first-priority item on the list of capital outlay projects for fiscal year 2014.
Discussion of other capital projects that may be undertaken in the upcoming budget year -- renovations of Fire Hall #2 on the Asheville Highway, renovation of EastView Pool to create a new splash pad amenity, and a new roof for the Community Center that is currently being occupied by the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County -- will continue as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen continues development of the 2014 budget.
The group's goal of analyzing the Town's departments, joint ventures, utility partners, and non-profit service providers to strengthen service delivery and reduced costs is still in the works.
Senior staff for the Town, the Greeneville Light & Power System, and the Greeneville Water Department have started meeting on a monthly basis to collaborate on organizational efficiency, Smith reported.
New agreements for joint ventures undertaken by the Town and the county government have also been drafted and are ready for review.
However, Smith noted, because the organizational structures of the Greeneville-Greene County Transfer Station and Demolition Landfill and Kinser Park are currently being reviewed, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Greene County Commission have not yet taken steps to approve new joint venture agreements.
Under that same goal, Smith said, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has reviewed the benchmarking project undertaken through the Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
The benchmarking project is basically an analysis of a large amount of data that pertain to services offered by Greeneville, such as the Police Department, the Fire Department, and Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services response and protection.
Smith said the data have been "extremely valuable for us" because of the feedback provided regarding the performance measures, such as response times for emergency calls, in comparison with the performance measures of other municipalities.
GAPS IN SERVICES?
Also under that goal is work by volunteer Ginger Isom, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, to collaborate with non-profit service providers to identify gaps in services needed within the community.
Rev. Isom reported that she is in the process of contacting all known non-profit organizations in the community.
The group hopes that, after information about services currently offered in Greeneville and Greene County is compiled, work can begin toward filling the gaps of services that are needed but not currently offered.
The fifth goal for the Organizational Effectiveness group is incorporating customer service into the Town's culture.
Smith said Greeneville has been working to implement customer service guidelines for employees.
He reported that on June 18, customer service expert, author, and speaker Larry Williams will be in Greeneville to conduct a workshop with Town employees about customer service practices.
The workshop will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Greeneville City Schools' Kathryn W. Leonard Administrative Office.
Employees from the Greeneville Water Department and the Greeneville Light & Power System will also be invited.
Smith said another component of the goal is to create an online survey process where citizens can provide feedback about the quality of services and customer services received from the Town and its utilities.
In the future, the survey process may be incorporated with the Town's website so that citizens can provide feedback about their customer service experiences, Smith said.
The final goal is identifying a process to capture additional grant opportunities.
Smith said that, in April, a number of the Town's senior staff participated in a grant-writing class with Loveitt Baumgardner, a group member who has extensive experience in grant writing.
Smith said Greeneville is also exploring the possibility of partnering with Tusculum College for research opportunities that may aid the grant-writing process.
"The problem we have is projecting revenues," he said, because the Town does not have an economist on staff.
Smith said the Town is to begin working with Dr. Melinda Dukes, of Tusculum College, to provide research assistance.
The hope is that, with new opportunities for grant funding identified, Greeneville will be able to increase grant funding by 10 percent during fiscal year 2014.
That particular goal, Smith said, is ambitious and will require much work to complete.
VALUE OF GROUP
As the meeting concluded, Smith commented that the Organizational Effectiveness group itself was unique because it is "an internal look at how the Town of Greeneville operates."
Smith said the value he personally gets from the group is the "community feedback on what we're doing" at Town Hall.
He said that when Greeneville employees are encapsulated in their specific tasks each and every day, they are susceptible to what he described as "tunnel vision."
Groups such as the Vision 20/20 action groups, he said, are a "fresh set of eyes" that can provide an external viewpoint.
The action groups do not meet at set intervals, and the next meeting of the Organizational Effectiveness group has not yet been scheduled.