City hosts first Facebook chat for the 2013 budget | News
For those that spend parts of their day browsing Facebook, they had a chance Tuesday afternoon to participate in some civic engagement. The city of Spokane hosted a Facebook chat for residents to ask their questions about the state of the city and even the upcoming budget.
City officials gathered in a city hall conference room to make sure there was a representative from every department to help answer questions. With over 1,000 users engaged on their page, only nine submitted questions or comments to officials totaling about 15 questions.
Mayor David Condon says this communication format will not replace the face to face component.
“It’s definitely one way of communicating with folks - a new version of the electronic town hall.” Condon said. “We’ve had some questions about how this is going to be integrated with ‘my decision making process’ - it is. None of it is perfect, but it’s a way to get comments.”
Some participants were concerned about the possible elimination of the city’s art department. Officials addressed that during today’s chat, but they offered few answers to the inquiries.
Q: I was alarmed at the proposed elimination of the Spokane Arts Department. What is its status under the current proposed budget? (Larry Cebula)
A: We are working with the stakeholders, including the Spokane Arts commission, to develop a plan to continue our support to the arts. (City of Spokane)
Q: So the Spokane Arts Department will continue to receive city funding at the current level? (Larry Cebula)
A: We are evaluating all options to encourage and support a vibrant arts community within the City of Spokane. (City of Spokane)
Another participant asked about jobs in the community.
Q: What are the plans regarding the general job outlook in our fair city? (Annie Henson)
A: We are just beginning to see some encouraging economic signs. Building permit values are up year to date over last year, but the recovery is fragile. That’s why it’s so important for us to maintain our spending at 2012 levels and keep government affordable. (City of Spokane)
The mayor is using this opportunity to gauge next year’s budget sooner. A survey was just released asking residents what is important to them when it comes time for City Council to approve a budget.
“At the end of the day, the council will decide what the budget is and we’ll execute it. I want to make sure they have enough time to get the public’s opinion and their own thoughts on it,” Condon added.
For those that are not Facebook savvy, residents can dial into a conference call next week to discuss similar topics. On Tuesday evening around 6 p.m., your home may receive a call that invites you to join the meeting. You can also opt into the telephone town hall by calling (855) 269-4484.