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Colorado Municipalities
April 2019

By Mark Deven, Arvada city manager

The City of Arvada’s Strategic Plan focuses on five Council Priority Areas: Safe Community, infrastructure, community and economic development, vibrant community and neighborhoods, and organizational and service effectiveness. The strategic plan is established on a six-year implementation timeframe and reviewed during the annual strategic planning retreat with a focus on strategic results. Every other year following council elections, a comprehensive review of all strategic results is conducted to identify updates, additions, or deletions. The review of the results provides a platform for potential changes that reflect the outcome of each council election.

The following steps associated with the execution of Arvada’s strategic plan occur throughout the year. 

Collection of data is the foundation for the strategic plan. Data is collected from citizens through the biennial citizen survey, Ask Arvada (customer relationship management, or CRM), public meetings, Speak Up Arvada (citizen and neighborhood engagement tool), and council contacts with citizens. Performance measures tracked by operational units also identify residents’ service needs. As an example, the council receives quarterly Ask Arvada reports, results from the biennial citizen survey, summaries of engagement results from Speak Up Arvada, and annual updates regarding community demographics.

Data assessment is supported by staff presentation of strategic results and performance measures through a series of “base camp” meetings. The base camp name embodies the theme of “the climb” related to the City’s core values of innovation, passion, and opportunity. This format brings staff together into work systems directly aligned with the five council priority areas. For example, staff from the public works and utilities departments will report on strategic results and performance measures that align with the priority area of infrastructure. 

Strategies are aligned and prioritized within the five priority areas. The leadership team conducts planning sessions to review and incorporate performance measurement findings and other data to prepare proposed strategic plan revisions for presentation to council. Council adoption of revisions sets the final direction.

Action plans are developed following the adoption of the strategic plan. Departmental priorities are defined to support achievement of the strategic results. Base camp preparation meetings review the current status of the strategic results and specific actions and adjustments needed to achieve desired outcomes. 

The strategic plan is the foundation of all budgetary and long-range planning decisions. Revenue forecasts are updated annually, and budget decisions are formulated on a biennial basis with annual updates approved by the council. Long-range operating and capital improvement plans are reviewed annually and updated on a biennial basis. Requests for additional resources or repurposing of existing funds must align with a strategic result approved by the Arvada City Council within the strategic plan. 

It is then important to actively evaluate the process and implement and monitor the strategic plan. Implementation is accomplished at all levels of the organization. Goals are developed within individual employee work plans that support strategic results, which is the “golden thread” that aligns the work of the organization to the direction provided by the Arvada City Council. Base camp meetings are the primary venue for discussion and collaboration, as meeting agendas include strategic results as a specific agenda topic along with performance measures that address key performance topics. 

The City of Arvada is already seeing results in the council’s priority target areas: 

• Safe Community: Three new community police stations have been built to advance community policing and a staffing plan implemented to support Arvada’s rapid growth.

• Infrastructure: A new transit hub was built to serve Olde Town Arvada, and a City-sponsored bond measure was approved by Arvada voters to improve two major east–west streets. 

• Community and Economic Development: Eight hundred new nonretail jobs have been created through targeted business attraction efforts, and more than $577 million in private sector investments have been generated since 2014. 

• Vibrant Community and Neighborhoods: More than 50 percent of “unorganized” neighborhoods now have neighborhood leaders and are engaged in neighborhood improvement initiatives, and Speak Up Arvada was launched as part of a community visioning project. 

• Organizational and Service Effectiveness: The procurement process was revised to reduce the time to process purchase orders and include performance measures, and workforce plans have been established to support the transition of the workforce and to manage retirements. 


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