Wicomico County Strategic Plan Process In Early Stages

SALISBURY – Fiscal strength and stability, responsible management of the Salisbury airport and water and sewer expansion topped a list of long-term goals presented to the Wicomico County Council this week.

On Tuesday, Councilman Bill McCain presented the legislative branch with a proposed strategic plan for Wicomico County.

Since taking his seat on the council in December, McCain said he has worked alongside Council Administrator Laura Hurley to develop a county-wide strategic plan, an idea he said was mentioned several times during the campaigning season.

“A lot of our departments do have strategic plans so in some ways this is a little bit like the tail wagging the dog …,” he said. “I thought that we should put some effort into coming up with a base plan that we can work with.”

McCain said the proposed strategic plan incorporates goals identified by both the county council and the county executive’s office.

“I want to make clear this is a Wicomico County plan,” he said. “It’s not a council plan. It is not an executive plan.”

As part of the document, officials have identified seven goals and strategies for which to achieve them. Long-term goals include responsible management of the county budget, responsible management of the Salisbury airport, water and sewer expansion, providing well-maintained transportation infrastructure, preserving and protecting public safety, having a professional county government workforce, responsible management of parks and recreation areas, and continuous improvement of the public school system.

“This isn’t rules or legislation we are trying to create,” McCain said. “A plan should be flexible, but at the same time it gives you a roadmap, a direction.”

While he applauded the plan, Councilman Joe Holloway said he would like to see the document address school safety issues.

“Years ago, I used to hear from teachers about pay scale, pay grade,” he said. “Now I hear from teachers and teachers’ aides and substitute teachers that they are afraid for their safety. It’s something that’s got to be really addressed in this.”

Councilman Larry Dodd agreed.

“When we were meeting with a lot of the teachers prior to the election that was one of their biggest concerns,” he said.

Council President John Cannon said he would also like the strategic plan to include grant initiatives.

“I think that’s where we are really at a shortfall in Wicomico County,” he said. “We may not be taking advantage of all the grants.”

Director of Administration Wayne Strausbury agreed. He noted the county would benefit from hiring a full-time grant writer.

“An effective grant writer is going to pay for his or her self,” he said.

Cannon and Strausburg also noted the plan should incorporate economic development goals.

“While every aspect of that plan is supporting economic development, I think we should make a point of investing ourselves in that goal,” Strausburg said, “that we support economic development without sacrificing the quality of the community we have.”

Councilman Josh Hastings commended McCain for his efforts.

“It really looks like something we could point to, even if it’s never adopted.”

McCain said he encouraged feedback from members of the county council and county executive’s office.

“It will take several drafts of this to get to something that everyone feels good about,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.