Strategic plan price questioned

COVINGTON -- Facilitators of Covington's three-year strategic plan have proposed a $30,000 price tag for follow-up meetings with elected officials and the city's planning team, but some council members say that's too high.

Facilitators Frank and Alysin Foster with the Centre for Strategic Management in Conyers dropped their $5,000 charge for the city's three-day planning retreat in March to $2,000.

Officials agreed they would like additional meetings to follow up on goals that were set at the retreat. The Fosters were also to facilitate 10 to 11 daylong sessions over the course of the next three to four months with a planning team charged with implementing the strategic plan. The total cost for those meetings is $30,000.

"That's an absurd amount of money, and I'm not for it," said Councilman Keith Dalton. "As far as I'm concerned, with those kinds of numbers, I'm ready to just part ways. We've laid down the groundwork and what we're looking for, and it's up to (City Manager) Steve (Horton) and his staff to implement it."

Council members Chris Smith and Ocie Franklin also said they are concerned about the price.

"I objected to that. I'm opposed to it," Smith said. "I think we can carry that out with our administration we have now. I don't understand why we need a facilitator to implement what we've already talked about."

"In these economic times, it's a concern to everybody. Things are beginning to look up, but they're not looking up yet," Franklin said.

Frank Foster said he is providing the city with a breakdown of charges to include the cost of the three additional meetings with officials and the strategic planning sessions separately.

"We want to make this thing work. We're waiting to hear from them," on a decision, he said.

"Can an organization create a strategic plan without having a facilitator? The answer is yes, they can," he said. "The quality and how well it works depends upon the organization."