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updated: 11/21/2011 11:18 PM

Wheaton sets out four major strategic goals and measuring stick to reach them

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It might not have been easy to get there.

But after a handful of grueling summer meetings to figure out Wheaton's future direction, the city council Monday formalized an "ambitious" four-item list of strategic priorities.

Among the goals the council hopes to achieve within the next several years: achieve financial stability, maintain a quality infrastructure, provide efficient and effective services, and improve economic development.

Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk admitted the list of goals is not exactly revolutionary. But he said the fact that each comes with specific, measurable goals makes it more meaningful.

"They give us a target and hold us to measurable standards to maintain the quality of life Wheaton enjoys," he said.

For example, under "Financial Stability," the council set a goal of keeping operating costs from increasing year-to-year by less than 2 percent, beginning next year.

Under infrastructure, the city council hopes to begin a citywide program aimed at reducing sewer backups and overflows by next September.

Retail vacancies are to be reduced by 15 percent by April 30, 2015, and efficiency improvements should generate $75,000 in savings by that same day.

Gresk said updates at city workshops and regular meetings will keep the council on target. But while more streamlined and efficient operations were the main reason for a series of workshops in the summer, Gresk said the exercise had the added benefit of building a team atmosphere on a new council.

"You have to remember, we had three brand new council members in May," he said, referring to the election that brought in councilwomen Jeanne Ives and Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti, as well as the appointment of John Rutledge.

Ives said the goals can be reached and that, if they do, Wheaton residents should reap the benefits.

"They are ambitious goals but they are achievable," Ives said. "The city will be in very good financial shape; I'm hoping we can achieve this."

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