How a Small Town’s Government Can Improve Community Participation

Small town government and politics can be challenging to understand at times. Community participation, which is essential for effective local governance, and the transparency provided by new technologies are frequently at odds. This publication will discuss how small towns can incorporate new technologies with the community’s participation to ensure more efficient and transparent local governance. Whatever the case, you can take several simple steps to improve civic participation and empower your community.

1. Have an Integrated Approach

Municipalities use an integrated approach worldwide to create transparent and innovative public consultation processes. The process used to develop the integrated community plan ranged from one-on-one consultations to traditional open houses and focus groups, to block parties and town hall meetings.

Although not one-size-fits-all, an integrated approach that includes traditional face-to-face consultation methods and more innovative online tools is recommended for small-town governments. This is to collect and consider public feedback to help make decisions about whatever issue or project is at hand.

2. Send Out Surveys to Residents

Sending out surveys to residents is a way to collect opinions, ideas, suggestions, or solutions from numerous residents. For example, to manage the town’s budget, the government can send out a survey where all townspeople submit their best ideas for saving money. The community at large (the crowd) will then vote on the best ideas allowing the citizens to have input into how their community is managed.

3. Utilize Social Media

Modern technology has allowed small-town residents to get involved in government in ways previously unimaginable. Gone are when residents could only attend public meetings and participate in community events if they were on vacation and happened to be at large festivals. The Internet has changed all of the above. Even if you don’t have the desire or time to become an active volunteer, you can still make your voice heard by writing a letter to your mayor or voting from your computer or phone. This article will discuss how technology can help improve community participation.

This method takes advantage of the Internet, its various social media, and other digital technologies to ensure that the public has a more significant role in decisions regarding the town’s issues. It is achieved by what is referred to as Social Media marketing. This strategy incorporates several forms of social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc., where the administration can post and update information in an instant cast.

4. Have a Citizen Panels

Citizen Panels are a great example of how local governments can effectively utilize the tools of technology to increase community participation. These convenient programs, which can be administered online or in person, allow citizens to vote on important community issues, such as budgeting and urban planning.

Citizen panels can be very effective tools for community decision-making that is otherwise thwarted by political arguments, disinterest, and ineffectiveness, and democratic processes can be strengthened if citizens’ voices are heard regularly.

5. Reform the Development Approvals Process

Town governments should reform the development approvals process to make it more open and transparent for residents. Require town council members to recuse themselves from voting on development projects with a financial stake. Town councils could also allow citizens to petition for a vote on significant developments, giving them away to express their concerns and forcing developers to negotiate with them.

Community participation is essential for all cities. When people feel involved with their local government, they are more apt to care about how it functions and to want to help improve it. For a city or town with a smaller budget, it can be challenging to meet every need that arises in a timely way.

Brett Sartorial

Brett is a business journalist with a focus on corporate strategy and leadership. With over 15 years of experience covering the corporate world, Brett has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and insightful journalist. He has a deep understanding of the business strategies and leadership principles that drive the world's most successful companies, and is able to explain them in a clear and compelling way. Throughout his career, Brett has interviewed some of the most influential business leaders and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Davos. He is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for his work.