Horry and Georgetown county councils each began looking at strategic planning Wednesday — a feat both administrators plan to propose to their respective councils in the spring and both well aware of the challenges they may face.
A presentation on successful strategic planning was given by Rock Hill City Administrator David Vehaun Wednesday to a joint meeting of both councils.
The uptick in the economy and increased growth the area is seeing was the reason for exploring the strategic plan now, said Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge.
“We wanted to see if we could take what they had done and mold it to what best fits for our organizations,” Eldridge said.
Neither council has committed to create the strategic plan, but both administrators said they anticipate each council to discuss whether they want to start the process, which includes surveying residents countywide, in the spring. The earliest the processes would be completed would be in 2016.
The challenge, however, will be the diverse population the neighboring coastal counties have, such as second-home owners, homeowners near the coast and those who live in rural areas, said Sel Hemingway, Georgetown County administrator.
“Particularly Horry and Georgetown, in some sense, that’s tough,” Hemingway said. “You have such a diverse county. ... I think, from an administrative standpoint, Chris and I need to look at some similar type of jurisdictions, whether it be cities or counties, that have similar challenges and see how they dealt with it. We’d also consult with the survey organization to see where they faced that type of challenge and how they addressed it.”
Vehaun said in the presentation that Rock Hill began strategic planning in 2003, and have continued to create new plans in three-year intervals.
“One of the big problems that we had with city council was that we didn’t really see that there was a real disconnect between the things that staff were doing... and things that council wanted to have done,” Vehaun said. “I think that’s one of the great advantages of strategic planning is it helps align the mission and vision of the council with the responsibilities the staff are doing every day.”
After surveying residents, the counties would compile those results, outline goals, objectives, tasks and performance measures.
Eldridge said Horry County Council will talk about whether it will create a strategic plan at its spring budget retreat in March.
“I just think it’s important to be looking ahead and looking out and trying to prepare how fast it’s growing, because it’s kicking back up,” Eldridge said, adding the county currently does not have a long-range plan. “We don’t and I think it’s one of those things I really feel is important and I think council would, too. We need to have a road map going forward.”
Georgetown County currently has a Capital Improvement Plan, which has been in place for more than a decade, but not a strategic plan.
“I can see how they intertwine, because as you go through cycles with the strategic plan and you get input and feedback from the citizens, there may be some issues where the only way they could be addressed to meet the expectations of the citizens is to integrate an element of the capital improvement plan,” Hemingway said.