AUGUSTA — Continuing the fight against drug addiction and crime and seeking ways to address childhood hunger and homelessness are among a handful of goals city councilors set for themselves and the city to accomplish this year.

Councilors voted unanimously Thursday to approve five overall goals for the year with most of those goals each having more-specific subgoals within them.

Fighting against the growing epidemic of drug addiction and crime is a major council goal for the second year in a row.

Mayor David Rollins noted a three-pronged approach of education, enforcement and treatment is necessary to combat drug abuse.

The city hired two new police detectives last year to fight crime stemming from drug abuse and took other steps, including holding a well-attended public forum with multiple area agencies and organizations to discuss the problem and seek solutions and ways to prevent it with a follow-up forum planned March 30.

Councilors at their goal-setting session in January had a wide-ranging discussion on what the city should do about what they described as a drug epidemic. Ultimately they settled on assigning City Manager William Bridgeo and other city staff members to draft an action plan by the end of March that would consider:

• The potential need for a detoxification center in Augusta;

• The need to train teachers, parents and others in identifying and dealing with people with drug problems;

• The mechanics of creating or linking to a website providing resources to those who are dealing with drug abuse and its effects;

• Ways of coordinating with state efforts and maximizing the use of state resources;

• The potential need for someone on-site in the schools to coordinate with agencies;

• The potential need for an expanded health curriculum to deal with drug use;

• The potential need for more neighborhood watch groups;

• The need to assist support groups of parents and family members of abusers;

• The need to engage medical professionals and neighborhood organizations.

Rollins said he spent much of the day Thursday testifying before the state Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in favor of a bill to provide $2 million in funding to create a pilot program in which law enforcement would work with heroin users who are “low-level offenders” to get them into community-based treatment programs.

“We’ve got to invest money in treatment and recovery,” Rollins said.

Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, said the council goals are used as instructions to the city manager to go forward with senior city staff to try to achieve those specific goals and plan for them in the annual budget.

Councilors limited their goals to only those they all agreed upon at their previous goal-setting session, leaving them with five goals, each with specific goals cited within them.

Specific goals listed under a general goal of promoting the long-term economic development of Augusta included taking advantage of development opportunities such as the Kennebec Locke at Head Tide (the former site of the Statler Tissue mill), the Kennebec Arsenal site, Riggs Brook and the former Maine Department of Transportation site on Capitol Street; achieving Certified Local Government status from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission; holding an informational session with an AARP representative about what it would take to receive designation as an Age-Friendly Community; supporting the redevelopment of the Colonial Theater and the northern end of Water Street; and supporting the establishment of a creative coalition in Augusta.

Goals cited under the overall goal of improving the built environment include approving and enforcing the proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance, enacting the proposed Historic District Ordinance, and forming a Complete Streets committee with the charge of drafting a proposed policy for council consideration.

Ending childhood hunger and homelessness was approved as a council goal for the year, as part of an overall goal to support those in need.

Earlier in the meeting, the council recognized a group already working to fight hunger, both childhood and adult.

Rollins bestowed a Mayor’s Recognition of Excellence Award on officials and volunteers with the Augusta Food Bank, which has provided free food for numerous families in need from Augusta and Manchester since 1981. The nonprofit organization provides about a week’s worth of food to individuals and families seeking assistance out of its pantry in the St. Mark’s parish hall at 9 Summer St. in Augusta.

The fifth council goal approved Thursday was to “improve council processes,” including reviewing existing policies governing membership on city committees and having city staff study and suggest ways to reduce the city’s dependence on using its fund balance, made up of money unspent in previous years, to supplement the operating budget.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj