Doing the Right Things

David Zimmerman, Tazewell County Board

One element of leadership is not only “doing things right” but “doing the right things.” Determining those “right things” can be difficult, but once they are identified, they can give you the confidence you need in leading your organization.

Tazewell County recently completed our first strategic planning session in nearly eight years to help us identify our priorities and goals moving forward. This retreat brought together our board members, elected officials and most department heads for a day-long session in establishing our vision, mission, values and strategic goals.

This process was the culmination of six separate meetings held around the county with extensive input from local officials and residents. The information gathered was condensed down to 10 strategic goals, and the board further reduced it to five. These five goals will be the basis for all important decisions we make for the next several years. They include: maintaining fiscal responsibility, providing excellent service, ensuring public safety, spurring economic development and improving the quality of life for all residents. Someone recently asked me, “Aren’t these already our priorities?” The answer is yes.

Maintaining fiscal responsibility. Tazewell County currently maintains the fourth lowest county tax rate in the State of Illinois. In addition, we have a solid reserve fund that allows us to maintain that rate even through difficult economic times. Questions asked during the retreat concerned our willingness to raise our tax rate — we are a tax-capped county — if we could provide additional services in return. The consensus of the board was that we would be willing to look at any program, but the bar is set very high to justify additional spending.

Providing excellent service. The employees of Tazewell County are some of the finest in central Illinois. They take enormous pride in their work and do an excellent job providing service to our customers. This is a goal that we will continue to practice, in addition to looking for areas where we may be falling short. The constituents of Tazewell County expect and deserve the very best, and our goal is to deliver.

Ensuring public safety. One of the most fundamental responsibilities of county government is protecting its citizens. Tazewell County, under the leadership of Sheriff Bob Huston, does a first-rate job providing public safety. This is an enormous responsibility, and the board must ensure that we provide adequate resources and staff to fulfill this important mission.

Spurring economic development. Regional economic development has been the topic of headlines lately. The recent expansion of Excel Foundry is a prime example, where they provided new jobs and investment, while Tazewell County provided the necessary infrastructure. We are committed to making the process easier and inviting to existing businesses and potential developers. This may include new staff dedicated to economic development, a zoning and building code that is easy to understand, or smart incentives that make the county attractive to new investment. It also includes a commitment to having a highly-trained workforce for employers.

Improving quality of life. This is a very broad category that includes education, recreational activities and a feeling of safety. The success we achieve in the first four goals will directly impact our quality of life. Our goal is to make Tazewell one of the most attractive places to live and work in central Illinois.

Having achievable goals in place will provide a standard by which the Tazewell County Board and all of our employees can make decisions that best serve our citizens and make us a stronger unit of government. Knowing the right things — and doing them — is leadership at its best. iBi

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