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County council gets ready for a new year

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A strategic planning session was held Friday, Saturday

By Kirsten Laskey

The Los Alamos County Council took stock of the present and began preparing for the future during a strategic planning session held Friday and Saturday in the Los Alamos Research Park.
Council Chair Mike Wismer said that Friday was spent talking about the governance model and what the relationship between the council and the administrator should be. He added the council also discussed key issues that the council will face in the upcoming year.
Some of the key issues identified during the sessions, he said, included economic development, delivery of services, possible fluctuation in revenues due to taxes and gross receipts tax and infrastructure.
Also, because there will be new councilors on board in January, Wismer said the current council talked about operating styles for the new council.
He explained the discussion on operating styles focused how to develop strategic thinking and study sessions to discuss policies. In the future, Wismer said, there will be a few more study session for issues. The sessions will be purely for discussions and decisions will be made later, he said.
During the second day, Wismer said each department head gave presentations about the current structure in their respective area and the challenges they see in the future.
Staffing is always a challenge, Wismer said. Another challenge, he said, is to educate the new councilors on what services the departments provide and how the county departments are broken down
All of this, Wismer said, laid the groundwork for another strategic planning session that will be held in January.
 Looking back on the two days, Wismer said, “It really helped gain a good understanding of how the county operates and really identified and laid out the roles the council plays and the role staff played and the ability to build trust between staff and council.”
Brian Bosshardt, assistant to the county administrator, added the sessions gave the council an understanding of what the future hold for the county. They can keep this in mind, he said, when they host the strategic planning session in January.
As this year draws to a close, Wismer said he describes it as both productive and challenging.
Furthermore, he said an active council, staff and community are needed to move forward the capital improvement projects and the Trinity Revitalization Project.
 For the new council to be successful, Bosshardt said, “it is really about having a basic understanding of the work the county does and the important role the county council plays in the over all picture.”
To the outgoing council members, Wismer thanked them for their services; and for the newcomers, “all I can say, fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a heck of a ride.”