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City Government

Deb Mohlenhoff on City’s Report Card

The City of Ithaca recently released its “report card” — a survey that measured and compiled residents’ thoughts on everything from public safety and road conditions to the productivity and transparency of city government. Ithaca Now spoke with Deb Mohlenhoff, chair of the Government Performance and Accountability committee on how the report card will guide the City’s actions for 2013.

Interview Highlights:

Now that we’ve seen this report card and we how the City feels about all these different things, what are the first things that we can expect over 2013 to see any changes? Will we see any changes? Or will this more so be keeping things moving along the way that they are?

“The entire idea of the GPA committee and our report card is that it’s really laying a building block for the foundation of a number of different changes. Some things that you’ll see specifically in 2013: Early in February we’ll be doing a strategic planning retreat including all the members of Common Council as well as senior staff of the City of Ithaca. What we’re hoping emerges out of that retreat is the development of a few, overarching — what we’re calling them is strategic themes. For example, what other cities do is they’ll pick things, like they’ll say, a “safe community” or what will be accessible transportation — very generic, overarching themes. What we’ll be then doing with them is using that as our roadmap or our guide for where the City will be going.”

On future performance reviews in Ithaca’s city government:

We’re definitely in the direction of developing a performance measures system. I know that that’s not a word that people like to hear. In our benchmarking, what we found is cities that make the best use of taxpayer dollars have something like this in place… It’s not about individuals. It’s about how resources are allocated. What happens with cities with this kind of system in place is they actually found that some of the goals that they had weren’t possible.

On a new chief of staff position:

What we’ll be looking at is that person will probably come on board in April or May. That person will really be taking the lead on these performance measures. Although there’s this wonderful group on the GPA committee and we have a mayor that’s really interested in moving this forward, we are not technical experts when it comes to putting performance measures in place. What we’ll be looking for in our chief of staff is someone that brings that kind of experience to our city. We’ve got to have a person that dedicates time. It can’t be an add-on to a committee or an add-on to the absolutely overwhelmed mayor’s position in the city.


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