The City of Wichita Falls has a plan for the future: a plan that prioritizes where available funds will be spent. And like most plans, not everyone may agree where money will be spent. That’s the case with the 2019 Wichita Falls Strategic Planning Workshop Report, approved Tueday by the Wichita Falls City Council.
The five identified areas of focus are accelerating economic growth, providing adequate infrastructure, redeveloping downtown wichita falls, efficiently delivering city services, and actively communicating and engaging with the public.
“We do have a consensus. We do have direction that we can convey to the staff. We do have the ability to then tie it to the budget. We then do have the ability to show our citizens exactly dollar for dollar what we’re spending on through those priorities,” Wichita Falls Assistant City Manager Paul Menzies said.
While the city wants to move forward, one citizen has not forgotten about the past. Bringing the issue before council, Wichitan Larry Robinson contends when he and many others annexed by the city in the late 1990’s, he never received city services other residents take for granted, such as water service.
“After twenty years, I guess we’re going to have to go through the legislature. Because, Wichita Falls wasn’t the only city that did it. It happened all over the state,” Robinson said.
It’s not unlike the recent concerns of Montague County residents gaining momentum for the right to petition for an election before being annexed. It’s been 20 years since residents first voiced questions and opposition to annexation without full services. City staff told Robinson that they were unprepared to address the issue Tuesday, but added they will meet with him and see what if anything they can do. Robinson has his doubts.
“We knew we were going to be treated like second class citizens when we were forced into the city and they’ve proved it,” Robinson said.
Whether some residents feel left out or neglected, city officials say the strategic plan will make Wichita Falls a better place for all, no matter when they became residents.
So, what’s next? The city manager’s office will assign those goals to different departments, who will then begin to implement them, reporting back to council periodically.