By Larisa Svechin, Mayor
(Tuesday, April 4, 2023) – Past articles have chided residents for not being involved enough. So, what keeps people from participating? A question dogging many municipalities. It is important that good public participation practices are in place so that residents can help the city be more accountable and responsive. If previous attempts proved unsuccessful, we need to do better.
“Every opinion which embodies somewhat of the portion of truth which the common opinion omits, ought to be considered precious, with whatever amount of error and confusion that truth may be blended.” -John Stuart Mill
Recently the city was challenged to review current policies so that we can engage citizens in a more significant way. Studies show that community involvement increases when the public is given basic and easily accessible methods of bringing attention to policy issues. Currently, the city holds senior roundtables, teen talks, and monthly commission meetings. All three methods aim to capture different demographic groups during days and times convenient for them. Is that enough? We have public forums, surveys, and direct comments as available mechanisms for engaging residents in the master transit and master parks studies. Have you participated?
As your mayor, it is my job to ensure the taxpayer’s money is spent wisely and carefully. Your participation efforts are extremely valuable. However, inadequately designed efforts may simply waste valuable staff time and financial resources. Worse, ineffective efforts can create the inverse effect, which may increase public cynicism if it is perceived that input has not been taken seriously. I urge you to sign up for email blasts, read notices, talk to neighbors, attend one of our town halls, or simply call me.
As the city begins planning the budget for the next fiscal year, I am asking for your input—this input and subsequent participation will help improve the public’s perception of governmental performance and the value the public receives from their government. A true test of good government is transparency. It is a core value of governmental budgeting. Developing a transparent budget process advances the government’s credibility and trust in the community. Citizen involvement in the budget process will increase public trust and the community’s perception of access.
Contact Mayor Larisa Svechin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.792.1753.