When people start to think about what Stafford County will look like in 2040, all sorts of ideas and thoughts come to mind. The tricky part is taking the time to create a meaningful path on which to build upon for the future. Over the summer, Stafford’s Board of Supervisors came together to do just that for our community.
“The Strategic Plan lays a foundation for our County well into the future, and allows us to focus on how we allocate your resources over the next three years, and, more importantly, the long-term,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Meg Bohmke.
While Stafford’s 2040 vision incorporates several strategic priorities as a part of its overall message, the Board simplified the desired state into a vision statement that Stafford is “where heart, home and a healthy business environment come together in one community!”
Stafford’s first Strategic Plan provides short-term steps that can be taken over the next three years to position the County for success within the seven overall strategic priorities: Healthy Growth; Dedicated and Responsive Public Safety Team; Quality Educational Opportunities; Responsive Transportation; a Vibrant and Exciting Business Community; the Heartbeat of Recreation, History and Culture; and Organizational Excellence.
“These priorities are important to our community,” said Bohmke. “A strategic plan is a vital planning document that communicates the County’s priorities to our organization and the community on where we are heading along with the initiatives required to achieve our goals while responding to a changing environment.”
Having an effective growth strategy is a big priority for Stafford. The Strategic Plan calls for directing growth into targeted growth areas and pushing infrastructure upgrades in those areas while protecting the County’s open spaces and preserving its rural character.
The Strategic Plan includes several three-year public safety goals such as assessing all current facilities and determining what is needed now and in the future, and establishing a joint training facility. Moreover, this plan seeks to develop policies to discourage turnover for public safety staff and implement the Fire and Rescue Strategic Plan. Lastly, it provides for the implementation of the recommendations of the School Safety Task Force, a group charged with assessing and updating safety needs and readiness in the schools.
The Board continues its priority on Quality Educational Opportunities. The Strategic Plan calls for evaluating and securing the purchase of land to ensure that the County can meet the future needs of a growing student population. As well, there’s a desire to develop partnerships within the community to enhance “education-to-employment” opportunities to fill identified gaps by business and government employers.
Transportation goes hand in hand with growth. The Plan calls for identifying transportation priorities, developing a reliable funding strategy for new transportation improvements and identifying transportation alternatives to reduce congestion.
The business priority calls for plans for the first phase of “Downtown Stafford,” a true mixed-use development planned for the Stafford Courthouse area. Residents will be able to live in multiple types of housing in a walkable community convenient to restaurants, shopping and recreational opportunities. Other highlights include streamlining the permitting process and other regulatory processes to be more supportive of the business community and investment as well as implementing Stafford’s Economic Development Strategic Plan in coordination with the Economic Development Authority.
The Strategic Plan calls for some exciting things in the next three years for boosting Stafford’s recreational, historical and cultural assets. Highlights include identifying a location and funding stream for the Stafford County Museum and Cultural Center, investigating a public/private partnership to establish a multipurpose field house and more fully engaging the business community in sports tourism.
“The Strategic Plan gives us another tool to decide where to steer and prioritize resources for the many needs of our community in the present and the future. It also gives us identifiable action items on which we can measure our success,” said Stafford County Administrator Tom Foley. “One of our biggest challenges is balancing the community needs alongside mandates and ongoing operations. By continuing the implementation of the County’s Comprehensive Plan as well as a Five-Year Financial Plan, the Strategic Plan is the final piece to building a focused annual budgeting process.”
In the area of Organizational Excellence, Stafford can already check off one of the items listed for the next three years in the Strategic Plan. Stafford announced last week that it received a third AAA bond rating. Plans also call for evaluating and enhancing employee recruitment, retention and staying competitive with compensation.
To view Stafford’s Strategic Plan in its entirety, please visit www.staffordcountyva.gov/2040. You can also learn more about the County’s Five-Year Financial Plan by viewing the presentation provided to the Board at www.staffordcountyva.gov.