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Covington approves strategic plan
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In a special called meeting Monday evening, a quorum of the Covington City Council unanimously approved a series of strategic objectives that they will give priority to.

Those objectives are improving utility service and delivery, improving human resource management and economic development. These strategic objectives will guide the council over the next one to three years.

The city council developed its strategic objectives at a special retreat held at the beginning of the month.

"Our idea is to roll this through the entire city of Covington organization," said Covington Mayor Kim Carter. "We are trying to operate as a business, not a government."

The council plans to improve its utility service and delivery by taking steps to stabilize electricity costs through the purchase of additional power. According to City Manager Steve Horton, during the summer the city purchases 30 percent of its power from the market, resulting in higher energy costs.

The council also plans to introduce online bill paying to lower customer service costs and to improve customer convenience. The city plans to seek out and provide, if available, low interest loans or other incentives to property owners that agree to take steps to make their properties more energy efficient. The city will also continue to provide energy audits to its customers.

A workforce study currently underway is expected to ensure that the most efficient staffing levels are in place throughout the city government. The council also plans to implement a Web-based training program for its employees and to research and implement, if cost effective, the consolidation of information technology systems citywide.

The countywide economic development study, undertaken jointly by the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Covington City Council, is expected to be a cornerstone of the city's own future economic development initiatives. The study is expected to be completed in 20 weeks.

In encouraging economic growth, the city will continue to support the hotel/civic center. The council also plans to hone its marketing efforts and develop incentives to attract high technology developments.

"These are exciting times for us," Carter said of the new initiatives.