Most people think of public works as the department that fixes things. But in the City of Largo, Fla., it’s also the department that plans ahead.

It does this so well that the American Public Works Association (APWA) recommends Largo’s strategic planning process as a model practice for others to follow when applying for APWA accreditation. Since becoming accredited in 2008, a three-year cycle that produced a set plan has changed to a five-year rolling process that makes it easier for department managers to match priorities to financial and capital planning documents on a $12.6 million budget.

“We seek input from all levels of the organization on our goals and what we want our mission to be,” says assistant director/facilities manager Charles Jordan. “We have each division submit quarterly reports on their progress throughout the year, and then update and renew the plan and report on it annually.”

GIS-based asset management also makes the City of Progress more … progressive.

Largo is the third largest city in Florida’s most densely populated county. More than 75,000 people live within 19 square miles bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the west and Tampa Bay on the east. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding are common.

Over the last year, the Solid Waste and Facilities Management divisions began using web-based software to improve routing (WM Logistics LLC), track garbage cans as part of a mixed recycling collection initiative (Rehrig Pacific Co.’s Container Asset Recovery Tracking System, or CARTS), and maintain buildings (TMA Systems Inc.’s WebTMA). The Streets & Stormwater division is working to request a similar work and asset-management system.

“Looking at the future needs of the community, technology, and innovations available enables us to maintain reliable services,” says Jordan, who serves as the department’s technology manager.

More than 150 men and women work for the department. Its 2015 operations and maintenance budget is $21.5 million.

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