Communicating in our city

Communicating in our City
Posted on 04/30/2019
Tim Tingey

By City Manager Tim Tingey

Keeping the public informed on various issues in communities is one of the 
many challenges that local governments must addressThere is often criticism that policies are considered without adequate public input and many residents may communicate that they were unaware or uninformed about important issues facing the community. When local government officials hear these comments from residents of the community it is always concerning.  

 

In Cottonwood Heights, we recognize the need to communicate effectively and we continually strive to improve how we convey information to our residents. The minimum requirements the State of Utah has established to communicate information primarily relates to noticing of public hearings. The mechanism for doing this includes posting notices on the Utah public notice website or placing documents in various locations and providing a newspaper publication for items such as budget amendments or certain land use decisions. In Cottonwood Heights we meet these standards but also strive to go beyond the minimum requirements by placing our agendas and information on Twitter, Facebook, the city website and newsletters, email blasts (for those that have signed up), state websites and city calendars. We will continue to pursue these sources and look for other options that are feasible in the future. 

 

In addition to the traditional venues to communicate issues in the community, we also prepare and send a monthly newsletter which includes messaging events and issuesA resident survey conducted in 2016 conveyed that the newsletter is the primary source for residents to obtain information about city issues. The Mayor and City Council have approved budget funds to continue this important communication tool in our community for the upcoming year. In addition to the newsletter, we hold public open houses and events to educate the public on specific issues related to land use and planning efforts. In future months, we will also be contracting with a research firm to conduct a scientific survey using a random sample of residents to understand perceptions and opinions on issues in Cottonwood Heights. This survey effort will commence in the fall most likely through online or telephone/cell phone communications 

 

As we move forward with greater transparency to residents, we are planning to implement some modifications which include: 

  • Newsletter refresh—in upcoming months we plan to have a new look for the newsletter and will emphasize upcoming issues that the city is considering along with a recap of items where decisions were made; 

  • Website changesthe Mayor and City Council approved funding and we hired a professional organization to assist in making modifications to the website. These changes are not going to drastically change the content of the site but will hopefully improve ways to make it more navigable for residents; 

  • Video series—we plan to have a video series on the website that will also be pushed out to social media sites. This series will be informative clips of events, issues and projects through interviews with public officials. We feel this series will be more interactive and give visual descriptions of issues in our community. 

As a community, we are doing much to enhance communication to our residents and plan to do even more. A key aspect is to have residents that engage more often in viewing our information mechanisms and being involved in the policy process. If you have interest in being on the information email listyou may sign up by clicking on the email notices at the bottom of the front page of our website and following the prompts to sign upWe also encourage you to view the changes in the newsletter and website.  

We will continue to do all we can to keep our residents informed on issues in Cottonwood Heights and we look forward to changes to enhance our efforts. We also appreciate the input we receive to help our community be more transparent and attentive to needs. Our goal is always to promote bettering our community and communicating the issues and our efforts is a critical way to help residents feel more informed and involved in public processes.