How to make your municipality better
A tall order, or not? Change is inevitable, but how you use it - that’s up to you.
As a municipal worker you know your community better than anyone else. We share a couple of helpful guidelines to optimize what you don’t know, you know.
1. Action steps according to your municipal strategy
Strategies are overarching and serve as a long-term plan. It can be used for businesses, budgets, municipalities and teams - it's like the storyline of your favorite TV drama before all the plot points are introduced.
From strategies, steps are put in place to reach the goal. For example, a digital presence for the municipality will contain steps like updating the website or getting quotes for a website if you don’t have one. Perhaps make a Facebook group or put a calendar on the website with event information or start a community group on WhatsApp.
Every meeting should be concluded with a list of actionable steps, to push processes and development forward. Rating tasks from most to least important helps focus time and energy on the most important items first, recommends Chris Astrella Past President of WMCA, especially when days become full, busy and everyone wants a piece of you.
2. Give online access to your services
You know your community better than anyone else. Making municipal matters and governance available in a way that reaches your community is key.
Some communities are outdoor people and a bulletin board in the local park may be efficient, others prefer email and digital information. There are some very helpful local government apps available to do just that. Chris sums it up as "Meet the people where they are..."
A February 2019 survey revealed that 48 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 years were online “almost constantly” and that most of Millennials' online minutes were via mobile. While social media can also be used to inform, share and educate constituents in the community. As digital processes are working their way into our lives, keep in mind that online systems make filing easy, help to keep ALL the paperwork and documents organized and enable a whole range of tasks to be done, very easily.
It also enables you to future-proof your community: because in 15 years, referring to meeting notes from August 2021 won’t just be last year's meeting. And, CTRL + F works much quicker than going through a filing cabinet. Putting information where you know your community is at, like a QR code at the boat launch supported by local government apps, if you live in a boating town, will ensure your community is reached.
Many companies offer innovative ways to reach your constituents: apps, websites, digital processes and more! If you don’t know where to start, head to Clerklist!
3. Sharing information to enable transparency
Who deals with what, when, why and how?
Transparency and visibility go hand in hand: information needs to not only be available but visible: current and older data. This is linked to accessibility, which is why it’s the step before. For example, making meeting notes and agendas available on the website linked to the calendar ensures not only information but also adds a layer of transparency.
Transparency helps constituents support the local municipal workers: it lends itself to offering an element of honesty, trust and reliability to the town workers. When the public is well informed, it reduces the pressure on the municipal teams.
Digital solutions, like local government apps, to assist with visibility and transparency are plenty: having a website or toolkit to make information on elections, events, meetings & agendas or budgets available at the click of a button, will give local workers time to work to provide services to the community and not just answer questions.
4. Involve the community
One word: ownership. Everyone lives in the community, by involving citizens in projects and decision making the responsibility shifts to a team working together vs the municipality enforcing projects onto the community. Community involvement will guide prioritizing of tasks and serve the constituents and their needs.
We all like to belong, and people have a deep connection with the place they call home: regardless of what that looks like. Ownership helps individuals own and share in the community and its doings. It also creates a sense of neighborly support.
5. Rework, renew and grow
The municipality you live and work in consists of many groups, many individuals and several businesses all calling it home. Growing with the community helps the municipality stay updated with where the community is and what their needs are.
Structures, ways of doing, cultures and needs change - daily. Putting yourself and your team in the best possible place to make these changes will prove helpful in the long run. Digital solutions, like local government apps, are all around: grab the bull by the horns and invest in a way of doing that can ease the stresses that come with being a Town Administrator, Manager or Clerk.
“The only constant is change” rings more true, every day. Growing and adapting is part of life, but with the support of your community, each step will be steps towards a future you and your constituents want!