Auburn 2040

The Auburn 2040 process will be delayed once again as the city of Auburn enters an election year and the Covid-19 pandemic still rages on two years after it began.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Mayor Ron Anders announced that the process of putting together the Auburn 2040 Plan would be postponed until late 2022 or early 2023. It is the third time the Auburn 2040 process has been delayed. 

Originally, the process was set to occur in the spring/summer of 2020, but was put on indefinite hold once the pandemic took root in the Auburn area. It was again delayed as the Delta variant swept across the country after the process just got underway last summer.

"We've tried twice to get Auburn 2040 started, but because of the Covid world we live in we've had to stop it each time," said Anders. "It was my intent to try to get started again in 2022, and we're not going to be able to do that."

Anders cited both the ongoing pandemic and his desire that the Auburn 2040 process not become a political football during the upcoming races for the Auburn Municipal Election in August as reasons for supporting the delay. 

"It would be my concern that 2040 would become a political hot-button issue next summer, and it shouldn't be that way," said Anders. "It should be an issue that is absolved from politics. It would be my encouragement to the next people that serve up here (City Council), that will be sworn in in November ... that soon after that they make their own plans to conduct Auburn 2040 in the year 2023."

The Auburn 2040 process includes the creation of eight community teams made up of residents who look at a number of topics while helping craft the city's long-term strategic plan, the last of which, Auburn 2020, was adopted by the City Council in 1998. The community teams would cover such topics as education, transportation, public safety, growth and development, and the environment and technology, among others. 

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the City Council postponed consideration of a redistricting plan until its regular meeting on Jan. 18 to give city staff more time to review and analyze the data accompanying an alternative ward map submitted by the NAACP in December. The redistricting map currently under consideration was drawn by city staff and signed off on by consultant Dorman Walker of the firm Balch & Bingham, whose involvement in the process drew criticism from some residents during Citizens' Communications. 

City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch emphasized that city staff drew the proposed ward map and that Walker only signed off on whether the plan met the letter of the law. 

Crouch also indicated that Walker and the city's attorneys would be available at the Council's meeting on Jan. 18.

The Council also approved moving up the starting time of its Feb. 1 meeting to 5 p.m. 

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