Five-year plan basis for city’s future

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Residents who have questions on how and why some actions are taken in local and county governments can get a glimpse of board or council’s reasoning by looking to the future.

A constantly changing five-year plan, based on needs and budget, is what drives Mobridge City government. Gone are the “fly by the seat of our pants” days, when city government was more reactive than proactive. Now governments need to look well into the future when making decisions concerning the needs and well being of its citizenry.

Mobridge City Administrator Steve Gasser said the city’s five-year plan is one that changes constantly, but is based on a set plan for projects and improvements that are necessary.

“Our plan evolves depending on if something should happen during the budget year,” he said. “Things are always being changed or added as the needs arise.”

The plan has long and short-range projects. For example, projects in 2014 include building a new water tower and refurbishing the water tower at Legion Memorial Field, and restoring the Oscar Howe Murals at Scherr-Howe Event Center. Long-term plans for Scherr-Howe include installing a bathroom upstairs.

But first, new basketball hoops must be installed at the center (currently being done) and a problem with the condenser on the heating unit must be replaced.

“We knew we needed to replace the boiler eventually, but the problem with the condenser needs to be dealt with this year,” said Gasser. “Emergencies like this are why we have a contingency budget.”

Gasser said each year the council holds a retreat session to discuss the city’s long-range plans. In late August and early September, budget meetings are held in which the members discuss needs for each department. Based on those discussions and budget requests, city plans are formed.

“Each year the council sets aside funding for vehicle maintenance and replacement,” said Gasser. “Before budget time the city’s vehicles are evaluated by the department heads and they request replacements when necessary. We have been doing this for a number of years now and have been able to keep our vehicles in working condition.”

Some plans take precedent over others, which means required changes need to be made in order to complete a project.

“Take example the library,”  said Gasser “In 2012 and 2013 we added extra funding to get that project completed. This year we didn’t budget any additional funding because other areas in the city need to be addressed.”

Gasser tracks the projects big and small and the council representatives for each department communicate with both the department heads and Gasser during the year.

“I make them (council reps) aware of any extenuating circumstances that have come up that may push one need ahead of another,” he said. “Like replacing the condenser tank at Scherr-Howe is pushing towards urgency and we need to get it done.”

There are large and small projects in the plans for 2014. Some are continuations of current projects,  such as the Second Avenue West storm sewer project and other storm sewer updates. Some are new projects, like the water tower replacement. Others, like replacing the clarifier at the wastewater plant, have been in the plans for a couple of years, but will get done in 2015.

Gasser said this council works well in planning and budgeting and has an understanding of why changes are made.

“Every council member has been through a minimum of two budget years and understands how the system works,” he said.

Besides the water tower project, residents will see work on the murals in 2014, and depending on the outcome of the April 8 election, work on the outdoor swimming pool could start.

Other projects in the near future include replacing the clarifier, phase three of the storm sewer project, continuing improvements at Scherr-Howe, new boilers at the A.H. Brown Library, extension of the walking trail into Revheim Park and rip-rapping the shoreline of Lake Oahe along the walking trail.

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