Dubuque City Council sets 2021 goals, priorities

Dubuque City Council 2021 goals and priorities

City Council 2021 Goals

  • Robust local economy
  • Vibrant community
  • Livable neighborhoods and housing
  • Financially responsible, high-performance city organization
  • Sustainable environment
  • Building a community that is viable, livable and equitable
  • Diverse arts, culture, parks and recreation experience and activities
  • Equitable transportation technology infrastructure and mobility

City Council 2021-2023 top priorities

  • Chaplain Schmitt Island Master Plan Implementation
  • City Information & Network Security
  • Equitable Poverty Prevention & Reduction Plan implementation
  • Federal Infrastructure Program Preparation
  • Five Flags Center Direction
  • Historic Building Rehabilitation and Preservation
  • Sewer System Infrastructure Upgrade

City Council 2021-2023 high priorities

  • Bee Branch Watershed Project: next steps
  • Childcare initiative
  • Community broadband expansion
  • Complete streets concept implementation
  • Comprehensive parks master plan
  • Imagine Dubuque implementation
  • West End fire station

Dubuque City Council members this week approved their new list of goals and priorities, with a shifted focus toward recreation development and infrastructure.

Council members held their annual goal-setting sessions over three days this week, establishing the list they want city staff to pursue over the next five years, along with providing a list of priority projects and initiatives to pursue over the next three years.

While the city’s goals remain unchanged from the previous year, the projects and initiatives listed as priorities have shifted to focus more on recreation amenities and infrastructure improvements.

Council members reiterated their commitment to promoting equity throughout the city, with multiple priorities still focused on assisting low-income residents, including a child care initiative and implementation of the Equitable Poverty Prevention and Reduction Plan.

“We need to put work into addressing and tackling poverty,” said Council Member Brad Cavanagh. “The rising tide lifts all boats.”

Last year, multiple top priorities focused on promoting equity and assisting low-income residents through the implementation of equitable fine and fee reform and the creation of an Equitable Poverty Prevention and Reduction Plan, along with providing additional funding for multiple nonprofit organizations that work toward assisting low-income residents, such as Dubuque Dream Center and Fountain of Youth.

Progress was made in many of those areas last year. Council members approved a $276,000 grant for Dubuque Dream Center and awarded $13,000 to the Fountain of Youth program. City staff worked to provide a report on equitable fines and fees reform, which included proposing multiple pilot programs that would see certain fines and fees utilize graduated-payment or community service methods for alternative payment.

However, while the poverty prevention plan remains a top priority, all of the items related to funding local nonprofit organizations and equitable fine and fee reform were removed from the new goals and priority list.

In their place, projects focusing on developing amenities and improving infrastructure emerged. New top priorities included assessing the direction of Five Flags Center, sewer system infrastructure upgrades, development of the city information and network security, federal infrastructure program preparation and historic building rehabilitation.

The council’s new list of high priorities, considered one step down from the top priorities, also focused on infrastructure and amenities, with new items including a comprehensive parks master plan, community broadband expansion and beginning the planning and funding of a fire station in the city’s Ward 1.

Council members said many of the prioritized infrastructure projects also would work toward promoting equity in the city, such as the initiative to expand access to broadband internet. They also emphasized the importance of developing the city’s list of amenities as a means of attracting new residents.

“We’re going to enter a time where people can work wherever they want,” said Council Member Danny Sprank. “It’s a matter of figuring out what really attracts people to the city of Dubuque.”

The council’s Chaplain Schmitt Island master plan implementation priority included a timeline from city staff that estimated the city would complete trails from 16th Street to the veterans memorial by the end of 2022. From there, the city would budget for additional trail expansion around the island.

The new priority focusing on a comprehensive parks master plan would seek to provide a complete condition assessment of existing parks by June 2022, with plans of potential future improvements to the parks in fiscal year 2023.

Several council members also focused on needed infrastructure improvement projects. A new top priority includes the construction of a remote backup data center for the city’s online records and resources, along with installing additional cybersecurity.

Council Member Susan Farber stressed the importance of improving the city’s cybersecurity.

“It’s very important to have a backup data center,” Farber said. “We do not have one, and it’s a pretty important need.”

The council also listed several new priorities focusing on specific infrastructure improvements, such as the development of a railroad overpass in the area of 14th-16th and Elm streets and beginning the planning for a new fire station in the city’s West End. City staff reported budgeting for a fire station location and additional fire department staffing would occur during fiscal year 2023 budget sessions.

Proposed priorities that did not make the city’s new list include the implementation of the city’s Climate Action Plan, an initiative to improve brain health in the community and a plan to introduce electric vehicles to the city’s fleet by fiscal year 2023.