AUBURN — The City Council’s list of goals might be too ambitious, staff said Thursday.
Interim City Manager Don Gerrish asked councilors to thin their proposed to-do lists down to a handful of core items. He recommended focusing on three broad categories: transportation, economic development and education.
“Those are the three things that I think we can really put something together,” Gerrish told councilors.
The problem, Gerrish said, is the biggest job the council has ahead of it now: hiring a new city manager.
“You are going to have a new manager coming in here, hopefully by the start of the fiscal year,” Gerrish said. “I think you probably want to work on some of these items with that person. So I think these goals are good. You just need to refine them.”
Mayor Jonathan LaBonte asked councilors to come up with their top five goals and send them to him. He and Gerrish have been working to combine those goals and summarize council wishes. The result was a four-page document listing 26 items, ranging from promoting good communication among city staff to reconstructing some city streets.
Hiring a new city manager was near the top of every councilor’s list, Gerrish said.
“But I don’t know if that even counts as a goal, because we’re going to do that anyway,” he said. “We’re doing that right now.”
Gerrish, a consultant from the firm Eaton Peabody, is helping the councilors search for the new manager and plans to have a new hire selected in May.
Transportation issues were common among councilors, he said. That included reconstructing South Main Street in New Auburn and finding a way to clean up the Washington Street gateway to the downtown.
“Everybody has ideas about economic development, too,” Gerrish said. “They have ideas about what it is, about housing, about business retention, business recruitment and what we’re doing with the arts and culture. The council needs to focus on what they want to do here.”
Promoting education, and replacing Edward Little High School specifically, was also high on the council’s lists, Gerrish said.
“It’s clear that we want to promote better relations and better communication with the school board,” Gerrish said. “We’ve started that, and I think it will continue.”
Councilors had some ideas of their own. Robert Hayes from Ward 2 said he wanted the city to create a system to track historic decisions.
“There’s a need to not only track what’s been done, but there is a lot of missing information,” Hayes said. “We need it to just get informed, for ourselves and for the public.”
Ward 1 Councilor Tizz Crowley said it would also be a good idea to create an inventory of city properties and buildings, including their maintenance records.
LaBonte said he wanted to focus on promoting small business development in the city.