Grove City Council and the city administration plan to work on their communication skills during a retreat on Jan. 28.

Grove City Council and the city administration plan to work on their communication skills during a retreat on Jan. 28.

Lance Decker, of LL Decker & Associates of Phoenix, Ariz. will facilitate.

Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said the council has been divided for as many as six years.

"It seems like there's an expanded number of 3-2 votes, 4-1 votes," he said.

"There's no need to have that kind of environment for the good of the city," he said.

Council president Ted Berry disagreed.

"I don't think that's the case at all," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of all the issues, we all agree on."

Stage said he knows of no similar retreats since about 2006, when a moderator facilitated communication between administration and council regarding town center revitalization.

City administrator Phil Honsey said he worked with council clerk Tami Kelly, who worked on behalf of council president Ted Berry, to select a facilitator.

"We check out the references of that facilitator and found them to be excellent," Honsey said.

Honsey said it's important that all parties make their best efforts to communicate well, become better listeners and adequately represent the community.

"A lot of organizations do this," he said.

"There's no question that there have been lines drawn over certain issues," Honsey said. Still a retreat focuses on moving forward. "It's a positive exercise," he said.

Berry said he wants to draft a list of priorities that would include city parks, the downtown area, and other construction projects that the majority of council can agree on. While everyone will not completely agree, "we need to try to be on the same page," he said.

Berry stressed the importance of checks and balances. "Nobody wants a rubber stamp government," he said.

Decker said working with city councils and administration accounts for about half of the work his small firm does. During facilitation, he spends time establishing communication guidelines. The first session usually lasts six to eight hours. Issues usually concern philosophies or spending money. "This is very typical," he said.