After hours of discussion Wednesday, Bluffton government, business and civic leaders whittled down a list of key issues to focus on in the coming year.
These priorities will help guide town council strategy and policy decisions.
Bluffton leaders agreed that the town must diversify its economy and focus efforts on recruiting firms from knowledge-based industries like medicine, technology and renewable energy.
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To do this, the town should attempt to streamline its permitting process and simplify its development codes to “remove red tape,” town manager Marc Orlando said.
Quality of life
A vibrant town must provide a variety of cultural and recreational opportunities.
Councilman Harry Lutz recommended providing more support for local artists and musicians.
“I’d like to see a venue where we can hold concerts and larger events,” he said.
Bill Stipp, a consultant hired to facilitate Wednesday’s workshop, said elected officials and employees must adopt a “one team, one fight” philosophy to encourage cross-departmental cooperation, transparency and efficiency.
Continuous training and educational opportunities for staff and volunteers who serve on the town’s various boards and committees is critical, Orlando said.
Long-term planning and prioritization are essential for large infrastructure projects, the group agreed.
Because of annual budget constraints, projects such as the Buck Island-Simmonsville sewer installation may have to be completed in phases over a period of several years.
The importance of the May River “is threaded throughout” all of the town’s focus areas, Mayor Lisa Sulka said. “It’s the heart of our town.”
The strategic planning group agreed to continue efforts to preserve the river and improve water quality through proven stormwater management practices.