City Commission Minutes 01-18-2024

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                                 City of Muskegon Special Meeting
                                           Goal Review
                                         Muskegon City Hall
                                         933 Terrace Street
                                        Muskegon, MI 49440
                                     January 18, 2024 2:00 p.m.
Present: Mayor Johnson, Vice Mayor St.Clair, Commissioners Kochin, Keener, and Kilgo
Absent: Commissioners German and Gorman

Staff Members present: Jake Eckholm, Dan VanderHeide, Tim Kozal, Pete Wills, Jonathan
Seyferth, Ken Grant, LeighAnn Mikesell, and Kimberly Young

Deputy City Manager, LeighAnn Mikesell, talked about the vision and goals set by the
commission, and provided an update on progress that has been made on all four goals.

City Manager, Jonathan Seyferth, explained that the four major goals of the five-year vision
were posted on the wall, each goal containing key focus areas. There was discussion regarding
the advancement of environmental sustainability and to include that in all we do.

The Mayor and Commissioners were given two each of blue, green, and yellow sticker dots
representing different point values. They were asked to place their dots next to the key focus
areas that they felt were the highest in priority. This exercise will help to inform staff as to which
areas should receive more of their focus and attention.

Listed below are the Goals and Key Focus areas that were displayed on the wall. This also
details which Key Focus Areas should be prioritized after the scoring by commissioners.
Discussion took place regarding prioritized Key Focus Areas as Commissioners added
comments as to why they selected the areas that they did.

Create an environment that puts an emphasis on improving amenities and investing in the
traits that positively affect residents’ quality of life and attract visitors.

                                Prioritized Key Focus Areas
          Partnerships with organizations focused on reducing poverty – 8 pts
Commissioners selected this item in part because of the recent closures of non-profit
agencies who assisted low income community members. Discussion included
considerations for how to keep families together, especially those who are experiencing
homelessness; ability to use existing infrastructure to house people; recruiting organizations
to Muskegon; using city staff to facilitate conversations and help determine needs and gaps.
                Parks and Recreation Department and Services – 6 pts
All points on this item came from one commissioner who urged staff to focus on
accessibility. The example of placing stairs at Kruse Park rather than replacing the ramps
was used to show staff are not placing enough importance on accessibility. Other
discussion included ideas for wayfinding signs to show public access areas at the waterfront
and increasing recreation opportunities.
                         Other Key Focus Areas for Goal 1
                              Improved access to waterways
              Improved transportation connections throughout the community
                       Reduction of blighted commercial properties
                     Recognizable improvements to community safety

Create an environment that effectively attracts new residents and retains existing residents
by filling existing employment gaps, attracting new and diverse businesses to the city, and
expanding access to a variety of high-quality housing options in Muskegon.

                             Prioritized Key Focus Areas
 Additional attainable housing units and increased rates of home ownership – 9 pts
Areas where the city is needed to advance this goal include education on financing and
home ownership, providing attainable (not market rate) housing, and changing zoning to
allow for accessory dwelling units and other small multifamily options.
                         Other Key Focus Areas for Goal 2
                                   Diverse housing types
                 Improved community vibrancy through infill development
       Improved customer service and streamlined business development processes
            Opportunities to retain youth within the city and attract young talent
                      Neighborhood commercial center development
            Progress toward new and ongoing economic development projects
           Increased population of people who live and work within the city limits
          Wider variety of options for greater use of arena and convention center
Create an environment of mutual respect and trust between local government and the
community we serve. Increase communication with residents, workers, business owners,
and visitors to inform, educate, and create opportunities for input.

                             Prioritized Key Focus Areas
Digestible, understandable, and accessible internal & community communications –
                                      6 pts
Again, the focus was on accessibility, especially related to those with low literacy and
access to election information. Discussion included a general lack of understanding among
the public on how local government functions with support from commissioners for citizen
academies. Other ideas included updating the citizen handbook, incorporating chatgpt on
our website search function, video tours of city operations, and communicating how our
work benefits neighbors.
                         Other Key Focus Areas for Goal 3
       Supported neighborhood associations and neighborhood association leaders
                 Strong ties among government and community agencies
       Increased and diversified options for public participation and communications
                         More connected and cohesive community
                          Staff reflective of the diverse community
                         Increased accessible options for elections
      Increased support for relationship building between public safety and neighbors

Create an environment that naturally affects the city’s revenues in a positive manner, with a
focus on reclaiming city investments in housing, nurturing startup projects proposed
throughout the city, and exploring staff recommendations related to new revenues.

                             Prioritized Key Focus Areas
                                 Increase revenue – 7 pts
Ideas to achieve this goal included pursuing more grants, continuing with economic
development projects to raise tax revenue, considering a milage to support city functions,
and developing a fee on boat slips. Commissioners were supportive of funding a grant
coordinator position.
                         Other Key Focus Areas for Goal 4
                      Maximized efficient use of existing infrastructure
                Reliable and efficient short and long term financial practices
                              Increased revenue from tourism
       Educational options to communicate revenue sources and services provided
                       Sustainable funding for Parks and Recreation

Additional Topics Discussed
Commissioner Kilgo encouraged staff to continue efforts to attract businesses to the city
with a focus on job creation.
The mayor would like increased support for an entrepreneur ecosystem in the city, efforts to
improve relations with the Inspections Department, and increased effort to communicate
how the city invests in various projects. The mayor would like metrics developed for our
goals and focus areas and for staff to communicate our progress on these metrics with the
The vice mayor suggested that we focus on a cohesive and connected community in all
aspects of our work.

Meeting adjourned at 3:55 p.m.

                                                  Respectfully Submitted,

                                                  Kimberly Young, Deputy City Clerk

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