A recent poll conducted by Valdosta State University professors found most residents of Valdosta were satisfied with the city's operation. They were pleased with the use of tax revenues, customer service and police.

An efficient municipal operation doesn't result from simple luck. It takes good planning and solid leadership, and those don't result from spontaneous factors.

We believe part of Valdosta's success is derived from the kind of meeting City Council members are embarking on this weekend. For the 14th year, Council will go on a "retreat" away from the city to work on planning. For two days, they will discuss problems, set priorities and learn more about each other. All of this will be done away from the distractions of life in the city.

This type of endeavor is common in the business and private sector. Professionals convene at resorts in the mountains or at the shore. A professional usually is brought in to help guide the process. The city will use a facilitator with the Fanning Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

Taxpayers are understandably concerned about the cost of such events, but we suggest that city government needs to be run like a business. What works for business is bound to help governments as well.

The need for a retreat might even be greater for government officials because every few years the players can change. Council needs to understand the goals of newly elected members and how they might achieve consensus to solve problems.

We would question the benefits of Council's retreats if it were not for the fact members have been taking them for more than a decade and the city seems to be doing pretty well, possibly because of them.



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