Want to see an angry person? Go to the city’s website on the City Council channel at approximately 44 minutes into the March 27 meeting. You’ll hear this little, old lady speak angrily. At least, that is what I was told after the meeting. You’ll have to watch this segment to decide for yourself.
If I was angry, I have lots of reasons for being so. I have years of experience telling people, in a nice way, that the city should have regular town hall or public meetings. Yeah, sometimes I get loud. I have years of experience telling people the city should record every public meeting for BCTV and later rebroadcast. I have years of experience telling people I would schedule the recording of all meetings into my work schedule. I was always rebuffed. Can’t do it. Won’t work. We don’t do it that way. No. No. No.
So I was pleased when the item for scheduling town hall meetings was on the March 27 City Council agenda. I spoke during public comment on this issue, and, yes, I was vocal. Finally, someone is listening! I’m not diminishing the two public meetings that have been held by council members Warren Harhay and Peggy Leavitt, but now we heard from the entire council that meetings would be held.
Here are a few topics that can be discussed during those public meetings and at council meetings.
Before the council holds a public meeting on the entire annual budget, they might consider having each department director report at a council meeting, outlining the needs of that department in advance of the draft budget. If the department directors know what’s needed, it seems logical for them to share those “needs” with the public. Then we, the voters, can speak during public comment and at the very least ask a question or two about the presentation. I know answers won’t be forthcoming then, but I simply want some dialogue.
Over the past two months, I’ve commented at budget meetings and with emails to the council, city manager and finance director regarding some budget expenditures. I’m thrilled to see that in the most current draft of the new budget, one dispatcher is being added, although Chief Tim Shea had asked for two. No one brought up this item at the budget workshop, but it’s been an item I’ve been vocal or angry about for years.
While my priorities may not be the same as yours, and this item was not on the council’s radar, maybe if regularly scheduled department reports were presented, Chief Shea might have spoken about dispatchers, and then all of us might know the staffing level at the police department and what was/is needed.
If there were regular department director reports along with the town hall/public meetings in the future, the public might be aware of details on the City Hall customer service improvements (design) for $500,000 that appear in the well-presented draft of the proposed budget for 2018-2019 dated April 10. (There is also a line for $50,000 for City Hall fire sprinklers.)
I can envision an entire public meeting on what customer service improvements should be, can’t you? The $500,000 item has the word “design” in parentheses. Does that mean someone is going to design the improvements and then spend more money on the implementation? I understand spending $50,000 on City Hall fire sprinklers, but the $500,000 is a little fuzzy to me.
The draft budget in the April 10 agenda packet also has a new position in the city manager’s office for a communications manager at the total cost of $146,918 from the general fund. OK, I’ll bite. Does that mean the 10e contract for approximately $95,400 is going away, or will the communications director be managing the person or persons responsible for the 10e contract?
Call me crazy. Call me angry. Call me impatient. Guess I’m all of those. I just want straight answers. I want details — lots of details. If I have questions about items in the budget, I bet you do as well.
I know there is no discussion at council meetings, since we, the voters, can’t enter into one, but perhaps the town hall meetings will provide some “crystal clear communication.”
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-339-9082.