Toccoa Officials Say Recent Retreat Went Well

The city of Toccoa works on planning for the year ahead.

Last Friday, the Toccoa City Commission and the city’s department heads met at the Mitchell Allen Meeting Room in downtown Toccoa for a retreat to look ahead to 2013.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin said the all-day meeting went very well.

“First of all, we reviewed some of our goals for last year and made sure we accomplished what we were trying to do,” said Austin. “We had all of the department heads there and they went over the things they had done that were goals for last year. After that, we went through each department and talked about goals for coming years.”

First, Austin said that the city did a good job of meeting the goals that it set in the retreat last year.

Then looking ahead to this year, Austin says the city has set a number of goals within each of its departments.

Some of those goals include updating the personnel policy and manual, doing a pay and classification study, and making improvements to City Hall.

Austin said another goal is to continue trying to revitalize downtown.

“One way we are looking (at), and a lot of cities are doing this, (is) people are moving into downtown areas like the old days,” said Austin. “They are putting in apartments above their businesses. We have several buildings that lend themselves to that, so we want to look at that area of expansion.”

The mayor also said that the city wants to look at an annexation resolution this year to deal with areas within the overall city limits that are actually not in the city.

“We have a lot of pockets of islands inside the city limits of Toccoa, so we want to look at annexation of some of those islands,” said Austin.

Other goals set during the retreat include purchasing new city software, working to improve housing in the city, and expanding the gas and water systems where it is feasible.

Overall, Austin said the retreat provides a great blueprint for the city for the next 12 months.

“It gives us something to measure ourselves by, so that as we look at these different departments and the goals we have set, we will have a measure to see if we are meeting our goals and where can we improve to do things better,” said Austin.

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson agreed that the retreat went very well.

Jackson said it is very important for the department heads and the commission to meet and talk about these issues and others in a retreat setting.

“As you know, at the end of the day the commission is in charge and they need to tell us what is on their mind and what they want us to address and to accomplish,” said Jackson. “From that standpoint, it is very helpful.”

Both Austin and Jackson also said that facilitator Janice Saylors, a former colleague of Jackson’s from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, did an excellent job leading the retreat again this year.