Woodstock town manager plans future

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK — Reid Wodicka says he faces the challenge of making a good team better as Woodstock’s town manager.

Wodicka took the helm in May and immediately stepped into planning mode.

“I think this is a very good and stable organization,” Wodicka said. “Any organization has some issues that need to be dealt with, but this seems to be a very well-run town in a lot of respects and so now the challenge is figuring out how to make a really good organization even better.”

Wodicka, a 26-year-old native of Lynchburg, served as town manager of Elkton from 2009-2011. Wodicka succeeded longtime Town Manager Larry Bradford, who retired after leading Woodstock for more than a quarter center. As chief administrator for the town, Wodicka oversees a staff of 55 employees, including the town police department.

Asked whether he has any plans to reorganize, change staffing or add positions as sometimes seen with new government leadership, Wodicka wouldn’t elaborate.

“I have some thoughts, not that I’m really willing to say,” Wodicka said. “I definitely have some general ideas…

“I don’t see that there’s an immediate need to do so to make sort of existential changes to the way the structure and organization is because I think largely in a lot of respects it makes sense the way we do things now,” Wodicka added.

Wodicka, staff and Town Council met in June for a strategic planning session during which they outlined eight, large-scale goals for the administration. Staff then began its work on ways to accomplish the goals, Wodicka said.

“The particular objectives have not been completely finalized yet,” Wodicka said.

Staff gave an initial draft of the strategic plan to Town Council in July. Wodicka said staff hopes to go over the plan with council in August and hear comments ahead of the document’s approval in September.

“It’s really everything from the external, from the policy perspective of trying to have a good and easy place to do business — everywhere from this is a great place to work as an employee to we want to have this beautiful place for people to live,” Wodicka said.

Many towns approach such tasks by allowing each department to come up with a separate strategic plan, Wodicka explained.

“So they potentially could be working against each other,” Wodicka said. “Everything that we’re doing is all integrated together so that we can ensure everybody’s working in the same direction.”

Wodicka said he wants to take an interdisciplinary approach to government organization and strategic planning.

“I don’t really like the sort of bureaucratic silos that sometimes we get into,” Wodicka said. “It’s really all about this team approach.”

Wodicka said he wants to build on the successes made by the department leaders.

Town staff is looking at how to improve Woodstock both internally in the government offices and externally through community policing and further use of the enhancement committee, Wodicka said.

Much of the staff discussions focus on planning as an organization and investments in the town’s infrastructure.

Wodicka and staff expect the planning to take time and have set a five-year schedule to accomplish the goals. Wodicka said the first few years will likely be more intensive than the end of the planning period. The last couple of years Wodicka said he expects the town to look at where they are and reevaluate the goals.

Wodicka’s arrival comes after the town completed several, high-dollar capital projects, such as the downtown streetscape and improvements to its wastewater treatment plant. But Wodicka indicated that he doesn’t want the town to wait on any other capital needs that may arise.

“In so many communities they’ve allowed their infrastructure and that sort of thing to decline and to deteriorate, and so they end up after not doing anything for 25 years really in a mess,” Wodicka said. “That is not the situation that I want to be in in 25 years.”

Work on the town’s capital improvement plan, yearly addressing Woodstock’s assets, should help the planning of large-scale projects, Wodicka said.

The town manager eventually gave a glimpse of the strategic plan, particularly with respect to the business community.

“The number one goal is Woodstock is going to be an easy place to do business,” Wodicka said. “That doesn’t mean, necessarily, zero taxes all the time because there is an optimal size of government. Those folks need water and sewer. They need new streets and that sort of thing.”

The work on the plan involves streamlining the processes required for an entrepreneur to obtain a business license or pay bills to the town. Staff is looking at whether the town can remove unnecessary steps and make the processes easier.

Another part of the work involves a review of the town ordinances and regulations to see that “they make sense” and remain relevant. That may require the town to remove or rework regulations that no longer apply.

“We don’t want to be that bureaucratic nightmare that you hear about in so many places,” Wodicka said. “I don’t think that’s the case it is now, but we want to continue to reevaluate and make sure that everything we do has a purpose and make things as easy as we possibly can to do business.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com