You share duty to communicateCut the city communications budget. Chop costs for the Current newsletter. Stop filming every board, commission and committee meeting.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
Cut the city communications budget. Chop costs for the Current newsletter. Stop filming every board, commission and committee meeting.
Cut administration, too.
Citizens made those suggestions often and with some vigor during City Hall budget talks earlier this year.
Well, those things have happened and not all of them by design.
Assistant City Council Administrator Deanna Sheely leaves Oct. 25 to pursue a career with Xcel Energy. The council showed no indication of cutting administration but will not fill the $75,000 salaried post, at least not as long as the city faces six-figure revenue shortfalls.
This inevitably will mean some communications efforts not already on the chopping block will fall by the wayside.
The big question is will citizens notice or care enough to complain if they do notice.
Ten years ago, citizens chastised City Hall for poor communication. Administrator Kay Kuhlmann hired Sheely eight years ago to change that.
The Current was born. (The city dropped a much smaller newsletter in the early 1990s, people should remember, to direct money to what were deemed more essential services at the time).
Communications under Sheely grew and grew and grew to the point she oversaw a full-fledged department with cable television programs, videos of nearly every city meeting and a multi-faceted Web presence. The city got new logo. Branding efforts followed.
Then the economy slumped. When city leaders asked for input trimming the budget, citizens communicated their desires and the city scaled back, videotaping commission meetings every other month instead of monthly, inserting the Current in the Republican Eagle rather than using direct mail, and shrinking both the number of productions and staff.
Now communication falls squarely on residents and their elected leaders. If citizens want to know what's happening at City Hall, they'll have to make a greater effort to stay informed.
That may not be a bad thing, provided people stay engaged and committed to having a voice in local government.