CARLSBAD — Last month, City Council held a workshop to glean what its goals would be for the year. This workshop has been in existence for 20 years.The daylong session was made public so community members could hear discussions between City Council members, the city manager, the city clerk, the city attorney and other staff members.
“The workshop is an opportunity for the City Council to spend some dedicated time discussing trends and issues affecting our city, the city’s financial outlook, community priorities and values, and other topics important to the future of Carlsbad,” City Manager Lisa Hildabrand said. “By taking a comprehensive look at where we are today and where we want to go in the future, the council can give broad policy level direction to city staff, who then can begin developing the plans and budgets needed to support that direction.”
Hildabrand wants residents to know that its city budget follows a fiscal cycle that begins on July 1 of every year.
Having their workshop in either January or February allows the city a leeway of time to be certain its plans and budgets are in sync with City Council’s priorities and recommendations.
Twelve key trends were discussed in the workshop. They were a spinoff of three original concepts supplied by City Council and other staff members.
The gist of these concepts tied into the future trends for the city.
“Based on the ideas generated, we saw three overall themes emerge involving the economy, changing demographics and the influence of technology,” she said. “We then grouped the information under those broad headings and further refined the ideas into 12 that had the potential to significantly affect the city in the years to come.”
These 12 key trends included creating quality jobs in a new economy, having a sustainable organization, updating land use policies, changing parks and recreation needs, achieving complete streets, fostering the next generation of community leaders, meeting the needs of an aging population, increasing public involvement through technology, finding new approaches to generate revenue, enhancing libraries in the digital age, increasing access to government services through technology and addressing aging neighborhoods.
Hildabrand said updating land use policies came to the table because the city is transitioning from a time of growth and development to a time when most of the major new building is behind them.
“We are also seeing changes in the makeup of our city demographics, particularly with a growing older population, she said. “We are in the processing of updating the city’s General Plan, a blueprint for how land in the city will be used in the future.”
The ideas behind creating quality jobs stemmed from supporting local companies, netting the attention of entrepreneurs and skilled talent, and establishing relationships with higher education institutions.
Finance Director Chuck McBride was on hand to give a city budget overview and economy update during the workshop.
“Although there are some positive signs in the economy, and our budget is currently on track with our projections for the year, the economy continues to be fragile,” Hildabrand said. “Fostering a strong local economy and supporting Carlsbad businesses were top priorities identified by the City Council during the workshop.”
Hildabrand pointed out that City Council directed staff to continue efforts to streamline city operations and reduce costs while still providing a high level of service to the community in the most efficient way possible.
From Hildabrand’s perspective, the annual workshop enables the city to “stay on track” in meeting its long-term goals and visions.
“Our City Council has a consistent track record of being able to work well together for the good of the community, and you could really see this dynamic in action during the thoughtful discussions at this year’s workshop,” she said.