Laurinburg residents are being invited to share their thoughts with Mayor Tommy Parker and city council tonight during the city’s annual citizen input session at the A.B. Gibson Center.
During the session, residents are expected to develop a list of priorities for council to consider ahead of budget planning for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
“We are going to try to have good input and we hope we’ll have good attendance,” said Mayor Tommy Parker during council’s monthly agenda planning workshop earlier this week.
“(Human Resources Director Amy Martin) will facilitate this year’s session … which will be done how it has been done in the past, then she can witness what’s going on and put her own spin on it (next year),” added the Mayor.
According to Martin, attendees will be broken into groups and asked to sit at tables.
“A council member (and/or city representatives, called ‘managers’) will also sit at the table to facilitate conversation … and to just take notes. They shouldn’t lead the conversation,” Martin said.
“We will then put issues of importance up on the (overhead screen) and each (citizen attendee) will get five votes on which issues (they value).”
According to Parker, council members will serve only to answer questions and offer guidance as to what is and is not within the city’s governmental purview.
Those who cannot attend but who still wish to offer input are encouraged to e-mail interim City Manager Harold Haywood at firstname.lastname@example.org or send them in the post to City of Laurinburg, P.O. Box 249, Laurinburg, NC 28353.
The input session will begin at 6 p.m. tonight.
During this week’s agenda planning session Parker announced that he would be joining interim City Manager Harold Haywood in meeting today with representatives of the Scotland County government, including Board of Commissioners Chairman Guy McCook and County Manager Kevin Patterson.
Parker said that the meeting was a new initiative aimed at opening the lines of communication between the community partners.
“We’re trying to build a better relationship with the county,” Parker said.
While they don’t have any “burning issue” to discuss, McCook said that he agreed with Parker that “we need to meet regularly.”
“We need to meet four, or five or six times a year and have a conversation around things that affect both of us and discuss the ways that we can support each other,” McCook said.
McCook said that he anticipates talk of future joint economic development projects, service consolidation and other partnership opportunities to be included in future meetings between the two groups.
Also during this week’s agenda planning session Parker revealed that some city employees were concerned that the city is not supportive enough of their continuing education aspirations.
“We had a fairly thorough discussion about it,” Parker said. “Current employees do already have a way to be aided with tuition, but it’s very meager.”
“I think come budget time we need to consider a more aggressive stipend, but we need to have some teeth in it so that you can’t just take the degree and run.”
According to Councilmember JD Willis, some employees have expressed discontent with the city’s management trainee program because of the pay and educational opportunities it affords young, new workers.
“Some employees, from what I’ve heard, are a little (upset) because we’ve got a trainee who is coming in making more than they are and they have been here for 25 years, but they still don’t have the (educational credentials).”
Parker said that he hoped enhancing the tuition assistance program “will help ease current employees’ view of management trainees.”
“If they really want to do it, we’ll give them the vehicle to get there,” Parker said. “We have a great staff.”