Your Mayor isn’t Santa Claus, but I’m making a list and checking it twice. The Town Board will decide what is nice, not nice now, or never nice. It will soon be the budget planning season, so let me share what is on my list of budget items.
2020 will be a census year where governments will assess where the country, state, and region stands; and what plans and adjustments are ahead. Highlands needs to do the same. At the top of my list will be to fund a comprehensive plan for the future of Highlands. This process is long overdue. It will cost money because I believe we should hire a professional consulting firm that specializes in this kind of process to guide our Planning Board and other stakeholders through the process. The notion that we can do a comprehensive plan with in-house resources is not feasible to me. It is standard practice among dynamic municipalities to bring in outside, neutral professionals to advise the community through this arduous process.
At this point in time, I believe Highlands needs to step back and do a comprehensive plan that will put us in a strategic position to respond to impending change. With rapid changes in our society, especially those driven by technological innovations, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to precisely predict the future in the coming years. But, Highlands needs to have mechanisms in place to make good decisions in order to navigate these inevitable pressures and disruptions.
With that said, I do believe a comprehensive plan can and should help the community envision what we want Highlands to be in the future. It will not be a simple task, and it will take many months to complete the task.
I also want the town to invest in making Highlands more user friendly. It will be time for us to upgrade the town website. I would like to see more emphasis on putting day to day information on the site. For instance, if there is road work being done in a particular area, let’s have a page where we can let folks know. I also want the website to be easier for residents to give feedback to their elected representatives.
I also hope we can start broadcasting our town board meetings on an open access TV channel.
With the new fiber network this effort should be possible.
I am also thinking about bringing back an old fashion method of getting community feedback by placing a suggestion box somewhere at Town Hall. My idea is to have postcard forms where folks can make suggestions. I believe in citizen confidentiality, but I would hope residents would provide their contact information so someone in town hall, probably the mayor, could acknowledge and respond to their suggestion.
So, these items are at the top of my new year list. I will share more items next week.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season Greetings. Enjoy and love your friends, neighbors and family.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor