Members of Atlanta City Council emerged from a two-day retreat Feb. 19 with a commitment to create the council’s first multi-year strategic plan, according to report from the council’s press office.

The plan is intended to strengthen the council’s effectiveness and tackle the city’s biggest issues, with increased focus on delivery of customer service, the press office reported.

Council members identified areas of focus in the coming years as crime reduction, economic growth, increased affordable housing, improved accessibility for seniors, a cleaner city and the reopening of recreational facilities.

“As we move forward in developing our multi-year strategic plan, we want to involve citizen participation as well,” said City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, who expects the final document to be developed by mid-spring. “This plan will enable us to set our goals, implement policies and to have a clear path in place which we will follow to achieve our objectives.”

Measurements were developed to determine how well the city meets the objectives.

“This plan will also allow the citizens to look back at the end of this term to review and measure our successes. And those measurements will be made public,” Mitchell said. “This legislative body will hold itself to a higher standard.”

The two-day event, held Feb. 18-19 at the Georgia Aquarium, allowed council members to hear from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and city Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman regarding the city’s current financial status and future outlook. The fiscal year 2011 city budget now is being developed.

The first day of the retreat was dedicated to training in ethics and standards of conduct, emergency operations and homeland security procedures.

On the second day, consultants Alignment at Work LLC led a team building exercise designed to align the council’s purpose with the needs of the city’s various types of customers.

–John Schaffner