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Live reporting by Michelle Storey
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City Commission holds prioritization workshop to discuss focus areas.

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Good morning. I’ll be live-tweeting today's Grand Rapids City Commission meeting for #GRDocumenters @GRDocumenters Today’s agenda includes a Prioritization Workshop and public comment period. The meeting is scheduled to start at 9:00am.

07:46 AM Oct 31, 2023 CDT

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The meeting was called to order at 9:01. After roll call, Commissioner Nathaniel Moody was absent, the meeting moved into the prioritization workshop.
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City Manager Mark Washington discussed the structure of the workshop and started a discussion on the roles and responsibilities of elected officials and city staff.
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Mayor Rosalynn Bliss started a discussion on Strategic Vision - Big Picture Thinking.
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Mayor Bliss started a discussion on elected officials acting as a representative constituent advocate vs. the city staff acting as service delivery/implementer. City Manager Washington noted that there needs to be closure on the complaint process.
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Commissioners Kelsey Perdue, Jon O'Conner, Drew Robbins and Milinda Ysasi all commented on the need for greater communication/feedback between elected official, city staff, and the community.
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Mayor Bliss started a discussion on decision making. Commissioner Lisa Knight commented on the need for information in a timely manner to make decisions.
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Commissioner Ysasi commented on the need to inform the public on where the authority lies for decision making.
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Mayor Bliss started a discussion on the role of elected officials and city staff as Trustees/Stewards and providing Oversight.
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Mayor Bliss started a discussion on how the city can get better as an organization. Where is more focus needed? Where is less focus needed?
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Manager Washington introduced the Economic Outlook of the city presentation.
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Molly Clarin, Chief Financial Officer of the City of Grand Rapids, presented the economic outlook and potential impact on city revenue forecast, appropriations, and reserves.
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Manager Washington introduced the Prioritization Discussion for FY2025 Focus Areas.
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Focus areas include Governmental Excellence, Economic Prosperity & Affordability, Engaged & Connected Community, Health & Environment, Mobility, and Safe Community.
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Commissioner Perdue commented on the need to focus on housing, supply and affordability.
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Commissioner Knight commented on the need to improve engagement and support of neighborhood associations.
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Commissioner Ysasi commented on having "Commission Night In" events to invite public comments on specific issues.
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Commissioner O'Connor commented on the need to have expanded methods of payment for yard waste services.
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Commissioner Perdue commented on need for compost options for waste services.
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Commissioner Ysasi commented on need of shared message to reduce speeding on city streets.
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Mayor Bliss commented on adding enhancing victim services under the Safe Community priority list. Commissioner Knight seconded.
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Commissioner O'Connor commented on bringing police and fire to full staffing levels. Commissioner Robbins seconded.
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Police Chief Eric Winstrom gave an update on police staffing levels.
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Fire Chief Brad Brown gave an update on fire staffing levels.
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Commissioner Ysasi commented on FOIA process and oversight in public safety system.
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Commissioner Perdue commented on crime prevention.
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Manager Washington commented on the need for 2-3 additional staff to address police FOIA backlog and ongoing FOIA requests. Can be addressed with a budget amendment.
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Commissioner Perdue commented on adding an equality framework to the prioritization process.
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Manager Washington asked each Commissioner to prioritize their top focus areas.
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After the prioritization discussion, the public comment period was opened.
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There was one public comment focused on the need for open communication between the city and the public, the FOIA process, park events, and minority input on housing plans.
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Meeting adjourned at 12:08pm. This concludes the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for November 7, 2023. Follow @GRDocumenters #GRDocumenters for more coverage of Grand Rapids city meetings.