West Chester council starts committee work
By Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News
Posted: 02/12/14, 7:28 PM EST | Updated: 1 week, 3 days ago
WEST CHESTER – Borough Council committees began their first sessions of 2014 Tuesday night after a restructuring earlier this year that resulted in some committees being merged or added.
Committee rearrangement followed the annual council reorganization meeting last month that included four new members joining the governing body.
In addition to the introduction of the Kaizen Committee, the PZBID Committee was renamed the Smart Growth Committee and the Recreation Committee was joined with Public Works Committee.
Council President Jordan Norley said the restructuring was a way to fill voids.
“We have been on our heels a lot,” Norely said. “Instead of being reactive, there needed to be a place for proactive thought for the betterment of the borough.”
Norley said the merger of recreation and public works was natural given the thin agendas both committees had in the past.
Instead of the Planning, Zoning, Business and Industrial Development Committee, or PZBID, Norley said Smart Growth simplified the title to focus on its goal.
“I think there are 50 people in the greater West Chester area that knew what PZBID meant,” he said.
The committee will share all duties it had under the old name but Norley said the new name aims to show the committee is about intelligent design and expansion while understanding the limited space and historic resources the borough possesses.
According to the definition, Kaizen literally translates from Japanese to “continuous improvement”. Kaizen is a philosophy dedicated to improving productivity by maintaining slow positive change.
“We don’t have a word for it in English even though we invented it,” Norley joked.
Among the committee’s first discussed items was a comprehensive update of the borough’s website that includes streamlining borough calendars, connecting with social media, and adding the ability to host podcasts and videos.
Borough Chief Information Officer Bill Mann offered a number of possible solutions for improvement.
Mann suggested using CivicPlus, which he considers the best solution for the amount of services offered, though it would cost more.
“I don’t call them bells and whistles, I call them necessities,” Mann said. “I believe this is our safest best solution.”
Mann said the design could cost about $25,000, which is more than the amount allocated toward website improvements in the borough’s budget. Should the borough pursue it, council has a number of options to draw the funds from other resources.
“You pay for what you get to make that happen. I think we need to spend a little money,” Mann said.
The committee is also looking to consolidate other borough associated websites currently running, such as the police department’s website and the Business Improvement District’s website. Councilman Brian Abbott said he would like to see the consolidation, saying it would be an advantage in terms of both expense and design consistency.
Committee members agreed getting a head start on the website, social media and technology was crucial for the municipality.
“It’s great to get this going right at the top of the year,” said Cassandra Jones, councilwoman and committee chairwoman.
Norley said he thought the Kaizen Committee produced positive discussion Tuesday.
“To me there was just a significant amount of glaring issues that haven’t had a home to be addressed,” Norley said.
Also discussed at the meeting was the possibility of adding meetings between council members and their ward constituents on a semi-regular basis. Norley was also excited to discuss the possibility of adding a jr. councilmember as something to explore.
All committees were charged by Norley to develop mission statements to be voted on and adopted to publish for residents and stakeholders to see.
Committees meet each month on the Tuesday and Wednesday a week before the scheduled monthly council meeting