Andrew Guinn is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC and an intern with the Community Campus Partnership.
The Town of Chapel Hill is preparing for its upcoming comprehensive planning process, known as Chapel Hill 20/20. As the name of the plan suggests, the document which results from this process will provide a clear vision that will guide the future of the Town. Before deciding upon the direction in which Chapel Hill will head, however, it is necessary to firmly understand where it currently stands. To support this goal, the Community Campus Partnership is assisting the Town of Chapel Hill construct an inventory of all of the services currently offered by the municipal government.
The service inventory must do more than simply catalog the services offered through Town Hall. It should also provide information about the standards to which these services are delivered as well as the human and monetary resources that are required to achieve this standard of service. Taken together, this data will provide a snapshot of the Town’s current activities and priorities.
In order to be useful as a truly strategic planning tool, however, the service inventory should also provide some sense of alternate service standards that the Town might consider implementing. These alternative standards might be higher or lower than what is currently offered. A higher level of standard may create more satisfaction among residents, but it will require more resources. Alternatively, reducing the level of service may free up resources but could place a greater burden on those who live and work in Chapel Hill. For example, the Town currently offers roadside pickup of leaves and yard debris. More frequent pickup may please residents but will entail costs to the Town. On the other hand, less frequent pickup will free up resources for other services but could reduce user satisfaction. The service inventory, then, will help stakeholders consider various options as they create a strategic vision to guide the future direction of the Town of Chapel Hill.
The inventory has been compiled by holding meetings with the managers of each Town department, from Public Works to Police to Business Services. Detailed, qualitative data has been obtained about the services that each department currently offers, including current service standards as well as alternate industry standards. This information will be compiled and then represented in both textual and graphical formats that will be made available publicly and in planning meetings. When complete, the service inventory will clearly demonstrate the options available to stakeholders as they articulate future planning goals that reflect the needs and values of the time.