SOUTHBURY — Since December 1, 2009, the state’s Town Charters have required strategic planning to be integrated into every town’s portfolio of “to-do items” as an essential component of town government.

After a couple of frustrated attempts and false starts over the intervening years, Southbury really got organized in 2015 and with an intensive, self-starter program, headed by former Selectman John Monteleone and Selectman Jennifer Naylor, who led a Task Force team of energetic, smart, committed volunteers, many of them already serving on other town boards and commissions, not to mention with family and other personal and professional commitments.

And the assignment was completed on schedule under an 18-month assigned deadline between April 2017 and October 2018.

The deadline was met, and the resulting plan was presented to the Board of Selectmen on Thursday, November 1, for its approval, enthusiastically given. The next step is establishment of a Strategic Planning Commission, but one thing at a time.

Task Force Chairman John Monteleone told the Board of Selectmen last Thursday that no one who served on the Task Force wants to serve on the commission. “Now we would like to do something else.”

Please, a likely tale. Unlike many board and commissions services, Task Force members always seemed to be having a very good time.

Strategic planning is easy to say, but what is it and what does it actually do? According to the definition provided by the Task Force, it is about setting a direction for the town including a vision and values, devising goals and objectives, and identifying a range of strategies to pursue so the town can achieve its goals.

Key statements from the original call-to-arms:

The Strategic Plan is a general rule guide for the management of the organization according to the priorities and goals outlined in the plan created by community stakeholders in a manner that is transparent, collaborative and inclusive.

The Strategic Plan will be interwoven into the daily management of the town as a guide to the future direction of the various boards and commissions as well as decisions made by the Board of Selectmen.

Responsibility rests with the first selectman to assure its preparation and annual updating.

The plan is a beginning and will be refined over time by input from the community, elected officials, boards and commissions, town employees and volunteers.

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