By John Schaffner

Atlanta’s new City Council president wants the council to adopt its first strategic plan and to reorganize the way it works internally , with the mayor’s office and with the community.

“We have started to work proactively with the mayor on the 2011 fiscal year budget,” Council President Ceasar Mitchell told 100 or more business and civic leaders who attended the March 25 Buckhead Business Association.

“If we are able to tackle this 2011 budget and do it in such a way that we make sound decisions and we create a very productive and positive interaction between the legislative and executive branch, I think that will set the tone for the next four years and beyond.”

The council decided “it is in our best interest” to create a multi-year strategic plan to identify goals and objectives that the council can accomplish over the next four years and then develop a strategy to accomplish them, he said.

“That is something that has never been done before in an organized fashion.”

It then would be up to the new council in four years to come up with the next strategic plan.

“I thought this was hot, something unique, that legislative bodies don’t do,” Mitchell said. Then he found out that Albuquerque, N.M., has a very sophisticated plan, as does Washington, D.C. “Atlanta is really behind,” he said.

Mitchell said council members want to pursue a number of objectives and enumerated five:

The first is to “reorganize the council in a way that it is an effective legislative body,” he said. “We are going to look at roles and responsibilities, lines of communication, processes that are in place.”

The second objective “is to strengthen the community’s awareness of the City Council. Folks don’t know what the City Council really does. They don’t know the characteristics of our council members and the skills we bring to bear.” He pointed out that many residents don’t realize that members of city council and the city council presidency are part-time jobs.

The third objective is “to create stronger lines of communication with the executive branch and to put in place strong protocol for oversight and accountability,” he said. “We need to tackle issues on the front end with the administration, rather than have lengthy, protracted and cantankerous debate in the public when it comes to certain issues of oversight and protocol.”

The fourth objective he stated “is to galvanize the council around certain collective initiatives that we can pursue as a body,” such as bringing more entertainment businesses the city.

The fifth objective “is to establish a core set of values that are reflective of our city’s diversity,” Mitchell explained. “This is a very difficult market. We have a very complex community. Our diversity really creates a very huge challenge.”

“We really have to come up with a set of core values on the City Council level to deal with our diversity in developing public policy,” Mitchell added. .

“I am proud to be serving with what I consider to be the best city council in a generation,” he stated. .

He said five new members joined council this year. “I appointed two freshman members as chairs of committees,” he said, admitting it’s unusual to appoint new members to be committee chairs.

“I have more women as chairs than men,” he said.