December 29, 2022 – Flagler’s strategic planning process has come full circle in one year’s time. County Administrator Heidi Petito kicked off the new process in November 2021 with a day-long collaborative planning session for department heads. During countywide training sessions earlier this month, she turned the process over to staff for implementation.
During the sessions, Deputy County Administrator Jorge Salinas, explained that the vision statement of the Board of County Commissioners – to make Flagler County a vibrant and prosperous community with a focus on exceptional quality of life – supported its mission and value commitment. Its mission is to provide high-quality services through a responsive workforce committed to excellence, integrity, in collaboration with the cities and to act as a fiscally responsible steward.
“We cannot do this in isolation – we need to include our municipal partners,” Salinas said. “We are much stronger together and it makes it easier for state agencies to work with us when we are in alignment.”
Flagler County’s value commitment and internal culture are built around the acronym F.I.R.S.T., which stands for Fiscal Accountability, Innovative Solutions, Responsible Growth, Superior Service, and Transparent Government.
“Fiscal Accountability is managing and being good stewards of the resources that fall under our responsibilities, such as the budget, tools, equipment, and vehicles,” Salinas said. “Innovative Solutions is looking for ways to work smarter. You all know your work areas very well. Are there ways to do the job more efficiently? Do we need to consider new tools, software, or processes?”
Salinas continued to explain the acronym.
“Responsible Growth. Many of us moved here for the quality of life and beauty of Flagler County’s natural resources. How can be good stewards of those resources while allowing growth?” he said. “Superior Service covers all of us and how we should treat our residents when they come in for services, as well as our internal customers. As supervisors and managers, it’s how we treat our team members, and how we treat each other. It’s important that we treat each other with respect and value what each one brings to the table.”
The 28-page Strategic Plan, adopted in September 2022, is focused in four strategic areas: Effective Government, Economic Vitality, Growth & Infrastructure, and Public Health & Safety, each with their own goals, objectives and performance measures.
“These are the four pillars of our strategic plan,” Salinas said. “This was a top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top diverse group including Commissioners and staff members who worked together to identify objectives and measures – 16 objectives and 119 measures in total.”
Moving forward, Petito has requested that all Board of County Commission agenda items reflect the relevance to fulfilling the goals of the Strategic Plan.
“We are in the process of deploying online dashboards that will track key performance indicators (KPIs),” Salinas said. “This adds transparency for residents by showing the progress being made towards the county’s goals, objectives, and measures.”
Departments are in the process of creating internal strategic plans. This will ensure alignment with the county’s overall goals and objectives, laying the groundwork for more successful strategy execution. These departmental plans will also ensure that staff understands and embraces the culture of Flagler F.I.R.S.T. – continually work to improve customer service, create positive customer experiences, and have developed performance indicators.
“I think we can always do better. Considering continuous quality improvement is the best way to ensure that we’re doing things in the most efficient, effective, and productive way,” Petito said. “This continues to be important as we make the shift from a small county into a mid-size county. We have created a framework for our plan, and now we need to align our resources to support that framework.”
The Strategic Plan closes with a summary of budget process alignment and the performance-based metrics that support it.
“Strategic planning and budgeting are integral components of good, fiscal management. The Strategic
Plan provides direction, while the budget allocates resources to implement the plan,” the document states. “A strategic plan that is not linked to the budget, is an unfunded dream. On the other hand, resource allocation, without big picture thinking would be shortsighted and unresponsive to future conditions. Strategic planning
guides the budget process. It provides administration the opportunity to evaluate existing allocations of
Key performance indicators are designed to move Flagler County towards its Strategic Goals once they have been fully implemented.
“The County has adopted the SMARTER goal setting and budget-alignment framework prescribed by the
Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA),” the Strategic Plan states. “Targets are set based on a methodology including historical trend analysis; statistical analysis; best practices identified; relevant compliance standards; projections based on both external and internal factors influencing future direction; resource availability; and stakeholder input as consideration toward refinement.”