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Tompkins County Launches First Ever Strategic Operations Planning Process, Invites all Community Members to Participate

Tompkins County has launched its first ever Strategic Operations Plan process to outline clear goals and objectives while setting a direction for the organization’s future. The Plan, while ultimately subject to adoption by the elected County Legislature, is slated to be finalized in 2024 following an in-depth community engagement, input, and analysis process.

Tompkins County is inviting all members of the community to provide input on the Plan. A website has been published to collect ideas and survey responses from interested community members. Ideas are being sought in the areas of: sustainability and natural resources, economic opportunity and workforce development, community well-being and social services, transportation and mobility, and public safety. The community survey is asking for the community’s perception of the County and its services, including what it does well and what improvements could be made. 

Additional opportunities for community input will include community forums, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and a survey of the nearly 800 Tompkins County employees. Funding for the development of this plan was made available through the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Tompkins County has hired the consulting firm BerryDunn to complete the plan in partnership with a steering committee of senior leadership.

Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature Shawna Black said, “Tompkins County administers hundreds of services across nearly 30 departments with a budget of over $220 million. This is an incredible opportunity to give feedback and influence how our County government operates moving forward. The results from this process will give us guidance on what investments to make and how best to meet the needs of our community.” Black added, “While we’ve made progress in many areas, we know we have room to improve and to be more strategic as an organization. I can’t wait to see the results of this process and to learn more from the community on how we’re doing and what we can be doing better.”

Tompkins County Administrator Lisa Holmes stated, “We’re centering equity with this plan – meaning that we’re using the planning process to help the County put our values and commitments to diversity and inclusion into practice. We will be successful if we are able to take what we learn from the community and take direct action to address the challenges we face. I envision this plan giving a roadmap for what the county will be prioritizing over the next five years.”

Ruby Pulliam, Tompkins County Commissioner of Human Resources, and member of the steering committee stated, “This is an opportunity to set ourselves up for success not only to meet the needs of the public, but also of our employees. We have an amazing group of public servants across all different types of departments, all relying on central departments – like human resources - to support their work. This plan will help the administrative side of the County organization better understand and meet the complex needs of the organization.”

Regarding the County’s organization-wide planning efforts, Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning and Sustainability Katie Borgella stated, “Some members of the public may be familiar with our Comprehensive Plan, the most recent one having been completed in 2015. This Strategic Operations Plan is different in that it looks internally at our how Tompkins County can best operate to meet its goals and objectives as defined within the Strategic Plan, whereas the Comprehensive plan sets a vision for the future of the community as a whole.” Borgella continued, “I see these two plans complementing one another, with our operations as a government supporting the vision for the whole community in strategic ways