Marketing Strategic Planning Report by rkg20899


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              Facilitated by:
                   Jeff Schott
           Institute of Public Affairs
               University of Iowa



Introduction        …………………………………………….................................                                       Page 3

Mission Statement and Statement of Values …..……………………………                                                     Page 4

Five-Year Vision ………………………………………………………………. Page 5

Major Accomplishments ………………………………………………………. Page 7

Issues, Concerns, Trends, and Opportunities…………………………………… Page 9

Strategic Goals and Objectives ………………………………………………                                                            Page 11

Organizational Effectiveness………………………………………… ………                                                             Page 13

Final Comments ................................................................................................. Page 14


The Executive Board of the Iowa League of Cities (ILC) requested the Institute of Public
Affairs (IPA) to assist the Board with strategic planning. IPA agreed to organize and
facilitate a process that involved the following steps:
       1. Prepare     a   questionnaire    to    identify   recent accomplishments,
          issues/trends/concerns, potential new initiatives/programs/policies and
          suggestions to improve organizational effectiveness.
       2. Conduct a preliminary session with ILC staff.

       3. Conduct a strategic planning session with the Executive Board.

       4.   Preparation of this final report.

Strategic Planning Session
A strategic planning session with the ILC Executive Board was held on August 19 – 20,
2010, at the Honey Creek Lodge in Moravia. The following Board members were in
attendance and participating at this meeting: President Dale Uehling (Mayor –Ottumwa),
President-elect Ruth Randleman (Mayor – Carlisle), Immediate Past President Jim
Fausett (Mayor –Coralville), Guy Brace (Mayor – Corning), Terry Cox (City
Administrator – Harlan), Kris Gulick (Council Member – Cedar Rapids), Reynold
Peterson (Mayor – Spencer), James Gourley (Mayor – Corwith), Brent Hinson (City
Administrator – Garner), Jennifer Cowsert (City Administrator/Clerk – Elkader), Andy
Lent (City Coordinator – Vinton), Elizabeth Hansen (City Administrator – Nevada).

In addition, the following ILC staff attended and participated in this session: Alan Kemp
(Executive Director), Heather Roberts (Manager of Information Services), Bethany
Duncan (Communications Coordinator), and Mark Tomb (Director of Membership

A preliminary session with ILC staff was held on at the ILC office on August 9, 2010.
In attendance and participating in this meeting were: Alan Kemp (Executive Director),
Mark Tomb (Director of Membership Services), Ed Morrison (Loss Control
Representative), Chuck Williams (Claims Examiner), Heather Roberts (Manager of
Information Services), Ron Sinnwell (Loss Control Coordinator), Jeff Hovey (Claims
Manager), Shannon Busby (Office Manager), Bethany Duncan (Communications
Coordinator), Jessica Harder (Director of Governmental Affairs), Megan Peiffer
(Governmental Affairs Associate), Katie Wheeler (Graphic Designer), Elizabeth Bender
(Administrative Secretary), Phil Marcuson (IT Project Manager), Kim Gannon (Claims
Examiner), Heather Owens (Claims Examiner), Curt Svalstad (Director of Risk
Services), Dana Monosmith (IMWCA Controller), Tim Kirgan (IMWCA Marketing
Manager), Michelle M. McBride (League Accountant), Jenny McKenzie (Medical
Claims Examiner), Amanda Werner (IMWCA Administrative Assistant), Dean Schade
(Loss Control), and Cindy Kendall (Membership Services).

Mission Statement and Statement of Values

The Board confirmed the League’s Mission Statement and Statement of Values:

       Mission Statement

       The Iowa League of Cities serves as the unified voice of cities, providing
       advocacy, training and guidance to strengthen Iowa’s communities.

       Statement of Values

       Unified Voice: The Iowa League represents and serves all of Iowa’s cities.

       Advocacy: The League promotes excellent government, effective public
       policy and Home Rule among members as well as state and federal law

       Training: The League provides education and training for elected and
       appointed city officials through workshops, publications, technology and
       personal interactions.

       Guidance: Through membership services, research publications, training,
       and other collaborations, the League provides guidance and serves as the
       resource for member cities.

Five – Year Vision

The following statements were identified as visions of the Iowa League of Cities in the
next five years:

      More partnerships – cost-sharing possibly
      More ideas shared with Iowa State Association of Counties
      The “go to” organization for any municipal issue in the state
      Adding to the services that are now provided
      Providing new training topics and opportunities
      To be seen and accepted as the authoritative, objective and reliable source of
       information about cities, including their operations and their funding, by the
       legislative and executive branches of state government, by private business
       and commercial interests, by the public and by the media
      Grow membership
      Annual conference expanded to (city) department heads – more exhibits and
       more attendees
      New expanded website
      Continue board committees to engage board members and get feedback
      The premier advocate for municipalities in Iowa and leader for
       municipalities in the Midwest focused on delivering results for its
       membership and the membership is confident that the association can lead
       and deliver the results that are most important
      Responsive to members
      Continued ICAP involvement
      New more convenient location
      Proactive legislative agenda promoted by key legislators
      Regular and scheduled dialogue with Executive Branch
      More outreach, communicate more with a range of citizen and officials
      Concentrate more efforts toward cost effectiveness and revenue generation
       for cities
      Increased attention to “best practices” analyses
      Increased supportive role as cities redefine their visions
      Cities will have a goal to be the best member city
      Attract the most passionate, talented, and loyal people as a result of our
       vision and successes
      Deliver more high value services with the same or less resources
      Measure outputs/performance in a consistent and intelligent way and
       holding ourselves accountable for results
      Continually building collaborative and purposeful knowledge communities
      More proactive, less reactive; in media, in the non-legislative ways issues
       affect cities, in our planning of yearly projects
      Be trend setters and an example to our members. As their association, we
       should be ahead of the curve
      Member-focused staff. An organizational culture that promotes and
       encourages more interaction between the League among members and
       encourages members to get more involved
Five – Year Vision (continued)

   Articulate vision to everyone and we need to make it known. It will hold us
    more accountable, and give staff and members something to look toward
   A “thank you” culture -- one that appreciates and recognizes member
    contributions and one where staff encourage one another
   Continue to research future trends and provide guidance to cities on meeting
    those trends
   Offer more services to coordinate those services common to the
    membership. E.g., taking a lead in fostering GIS platforms
   Set the standard for the highest integrity and excellence in municipal
   Making our organization well organized online and easy to use for the public
    Using social media as another way to connect with our members
   Continue to provide quality education and assistance to city officials while
    improving and enhancing the way this is done, such as the magazine, Web
    site and workshops
   Strong leadership: from the staff, the board and within cities
   Continue to have a solid legislative staff and continue to be increasingly
    effective at the Capitol
   Educate our staff more so they have the ability to teach even more things at
    the workshops
   Listen to city needs, watch trends & legislation, communicate with city of
    effects for trends
   Continue to train member and advocate for members.
   Continue to offer workers’ compensation program
   Succeed in forging a new understanding and acceptance of the role of city
    government under the Home Rule Amendment to the Iowa Constitution and
    under Home Rule implementing legislation
   Need to demonstrate to members the benefit of joining and staying a

Major Accomplishments

The following were identified as major accomplishments of ILC during the past two

      Improved advocacy for cities at the legislative level
       o Able to successfully fight/defend legislative issues
       o Enhanced legal and research resources
       o Increased recognition of League as a legislative resource
       o Legislative Priorities
       o Key input on open meetings legislation
       o Alternative funding for cities
       o Right to Work legislation
      Great staff
       o Increased research and fiscal analysis capabilities
       o Professional level of the staff has greatly improved reputation and impact
       o More efficient
      iCash
      Completed needs assessment regarding the new joint facility project
      Great communication – getting information to cities
      Better hands-on (committee) work with smaller cities
      Better financial management
      New format for Legislative Day - very user friendly
      Established legal fund to assist with litigation
      Established a standing Housing Committee to provide communities with
      Revised banking and investment policy and updating policies
      Storm water relief policies
       Maintained membership despite bad economy
      Development of a more active, involved legal counsel
      More consistent branding across departments (magazine, legislative link,
       special reports, etc all actually look like they came from the same
      Updated staff handbook
      Kept the organization’s head above water in very trying times due to natural
       disasters and a declining economy resulting in shrinking revenues for all
      The League’s Annual Conference improves each year and appears to be
       growing in spite of a poor economy – in the black
      Delivery of information has improved (the magazine is better; we’ve
       improved the Web site; workshops have improved)
      New education offerings – Online Budget Training; Annual Financial Report
      Increased effectiveness in providing advice and training to cities on
       operating, financial (budgeting) and legal issues.
      IaCMA Web site
Major Accomplishments (continued)

   Exposure for cities at annual conference
   Developing financial management tools for League events, programs
   IMWCA - positive balance sheet, strong fund balances
   IMWCA program enhancements: Return-to-Work program, On-Line
    University, Company Nurse program; enhanced brochures/membership
   GFOA financial reporting award to IMWCA
   Increased acceptance of the League as an authoritative, objective and reliable
    source of information about cities, including their operations and their
    funding, by the legislative and executive branches of state government, by
    private business and commercial interests, by the public and by the media
   Recently embarking on an internal examination of Board and League best
    governance/management practices, to ensure the League adheres to high
    standards of responsibility and leadership
   Focusing on effective and strategic legislative and regulatory advocacy
   Small City Workshops re-tooled with high attendance during a difficult
    budget climate
   Municipal Leadership Academy provided high quality instruction for mostly
    newly elected city officials
   Staff has stabilized, offering the membership with consistent names and faces
    that they have come to trust to serve as a resource for membership services,
    legal and legislative advocacy

Issues, Concerns, Trends and Opportunities

The following were identified as issues, concerns, trends, and opportunities that may
affect future ILC services, policies, finances or operations:

      Decreasing revenues on both the state and local levels
            o Decline in revenue for small communities
            o Financing for cities is critical whether large or small
      Potential decreased membership if economy does not improve
      Finances – need to increase dues soon
      Taxes – roll back, TIF
       o TIF evaluation at some point by Legislature
      Distribution formula of Local Option Sales Tax
      Work with the Metro Coalition while at the same time providing a balance
       between services needed of the large metro areas as well as small
      Need for civic minded people to run for office
      Need to keep looking for ways to engage small cities, most of membership –
       small city workshops. Rename them, no one likes to say or think they are
      Need to engage large cities in attending annual conference
      Need new, updated and user friendly website
      Continued focus of resources on legislative advocacy
      Opportunities to provide more resources to small communities that do not
       have local resources through training in areas such as land use, water quality,
      Getting small municipalities to participate and use these resources
      Cost effective convenient tools need to be available
      Regulatory issues affecting cities is a significant concern
      Environmental regulations
      Need for additional transportation revenues
      The decline of population in rural communities
      More local control of financing resources
      Finalize the building agreement for new offices
      increase legislative issues on federal level
      Preservation of “Home Rule” throughout legislative process
      Continue and/or elevate level of research, fiscal analysis and legal support
      Representation or policy groups at state and federal level
      Continued educational efforts/ proactively responsive to trends, issues, crisis
      Address policy issues differences as they pertain to differences in community
      Increase available data on policies vs. results across nation
      Increase member input
      Continued natural disasters
      No Human Resources department

Issues, Concerns, Trends and Opportunities (continued)

   Non-Dues Revenue could be key. We’re already really tapping out our
    associate members, and there has to be other ways to increase revenue
   Social media. Find a way to use it that works for us
   More fiscal accountability for individual projects, including workshops being
    held accountable for ‘holding their own.”
   Younger people are getting involved in government, and not just nationally
    but locally, too. Are we prepared to meet them where they are? Do we want
    to try?
   Trend of declining attendance at certain workshops and events
   How to transition the very small towns towards either disincorporation or
    developing alternative methods to providing mandated services/duties with
    the limited resources
   Comprehensive planning, “smart” planning, financing infrastructure, other
   Health care mandates - cities will need guidance and training
   League seems to target Mayors, Councils, City Administrators and Clerks.
    Other city staff may benefit from understanding the “big picture” of city
   Need to make our members feel more important/valuable…It would be great
    if someone visited every city/member at least once a year
   Partnering with ISAC for a shared building and other common services
    o Explore the possibility of offering administrative services to ICAP
   Need to attend regional meetings, clerk’s meetings, etc. - we’re not
    interacting with a big portion of our membership and we need to be engaged
   Need to foster better member relations – more field/face time to smooth out
    the bumps inherent to the “electronic” connection we already have.
   The League is in a constant struggle in providing salary and benefits
    packages to positions similar to those in the private sector. This will be an
    on-going process in order to continue attracting excellent candidates for
   Need to fill empty IT position to speed up technology projects.
   Key positions retiring soon?
   How do we better monitor the profit/loss on our project in real-time as
    decisions are being made
   Determination of legal status of the League as an entity
   Outcome of November Elections and its effects on direction of future
    legislative sessions
   With difficult financial times in the short term we will need to effectively
    communicate the value of our organization to a membership that has to
    make difficult financial decisions
   Technology challenge - getting lost in the shuffle as the membership is
    exposed to such large amounts of information from a variety of sources (S)
   Need to utilize technology in a more proactive manner for training and
    certain types of meetings.
   Litigation, amicus briefs - financial consequences
Strategic Goals and Objectives

The Executive Board selected the following strategic goals and objectives (italics identify
new initiatives):

Strategic Goal #1 – Effectively advocate the city case to the state legislature, state
officials and other policy leaders.

          Allocate additional resources toward legislative advocacy
          Identify additional collaborative partners for legislative advocacy
          Continue to establish and promote legislative priorities for cities
          Continue to be a reliable source of timely and accurate information regarding
           city issues for legislators, state officials, and city officials
          Maintain/enhance ILC effectiveness with legislators and state officials
          Continue to promote the image of cities as important forces for progress,
           prosperity, and economic development
          Educate other constituencies as to why ILC priorities are so important
          Inform citizens of the important role cities play in their daily and future lives

Strategic Goal #2 – Enhance the effective and economic delivery of membership services

          Increase membership participation in ILC programs and activities
          Continue to provide technical, procedural, and legal support to cities,
           especially smaller communities
          Continue to keep members informed by newsletters, e-mails, etc.
          Review and update the ILC web site
          Continue to provide resources to cities such as insurance, investment pooling,
           and aggregation of services (such as I-CASH, GovOffice, etc.)
          Continue to serve as the essential contact point connecting different
          Continue ILC participation in litigation matters critical to League members

Strategic Goal #3 – Provide education/training/research for city officials to promote
excellence in city government

          Continue to expand ILC research capabilities

          Provide forums for exchange of information (web site, magazine articles, etc.)
              on matters of key importance to cities, such as economic development
          Extend training programs to focus on areas that are frequent challenges to
              cities, such as
                   o Service-sharing/collaboration
                   o Grants
                   o Doing more with less
                   o Budget and finance
                   o Managing consultants
                   o Diversity
                   o Poll membership to determine their areas of interest for training
          Identify and disseminate “Best Practices” as resources for cities
          Continue to keep city officials informed about new laws, regulations, and
              court cases affecting cities
          Continue to educate city officials in the art of governing
          Continue to provide information/training for newly elected city officials
                   o Provide Municipal Leadership Training to newly elected/appointed
                       city officials during off- city general election years
          Continue to serve as a vehicle for sharing ideas and technical information
          Collect and share comparative data for cities
          Secure and disseminate vital information to engage in discussions of topics
              important to local government
          Continue to conduct the annual conference and other workshops and training
              programs to provide information and networking opportunities for city
          Take proactive position with respect to “smart planning” legislative
          Conduct a survey of cities’ revenue practices

Strategic Goal #4 – Review and enhance the League’s governance/organizational
structure to accomplish ILC’s strategic goals and objectives.

          Complete the review of the League’s governance structure
           Develop a plan to increase ILC funding to meet the organization’s projected
          Make a decision regarding the proposed new joint facility with ISAC
          Enhance staff organizational development
          Work toward resolution/determination of League’s tax status

Organizational Effectiveness
The Executive Board reviewed a variety of ideas to improve organizational effectiveness
and agreed to undertake the following initiatives to improve organizational effectiveness:

      Enhance transparency of the League as an organization – get “out front” on the
      Staff will continue to develop and submit for Executive Board review and
       approval an Action Plan for accomplishing the strategic planning goals and
       objectives. The Action Plan would define the steps that would be needed to
       accomplish each goal, identify who is responsible for implementation, and
       establish a timeline for accomplishment.
      Review the status of implementing the Action Plan at each meeting of the
       Executive Board.
      Executive Board to stay focused on “big picture” issues – accomplishing strategic
       goals and key organizational priorities – and let staff work on details.
      Conduct comprehensive strategic planning session every second year.
      Encourage Executive Board members and staff to meet with ILC members and
       find out their concerns/needs. Attend ILC and regional league functions,
       activities, and programs.
      Provide orientation sessions for new Executive Board members on an as-needed
       basis. Include a briefing on what staff does on a day-to-day basis in this
           o Include a review of the League’s strategic goals and action plan as part of
                orientation of new board members
      Make sure staff knows that the Executive Board is very appreciative of staff
      Investigate human resource administration functions in the League

Final Comments

It was a pleasure to once again assist the Iowa League of Cities Executive Board with this
strategic planning process. I was extremely impressed with the level of cooperation and
positive attitudes of the Board members and League staff.

It is recommended that the results of this strategic planning process, especially the
strategic goals and the recent accomplishments be broadly disseminated to the League’s
membership, staff, strategic partners, and other key stake holders.

It is also recommended that the Executive Board carefully and regularly review and
monitor the status of implementation of these goals.

Jeff Schott
Institute of Public Affairs
University of Iowa
September 23, 2010


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