I've been thinking a bit about how our community public budget meeting could be made better. Almost every year, city hall invests a huge amount of resources into this meeting. All the most senior city managers almost always attend, as well as all of city council. Sally Edwards, the city's finance director, gives a very informative presentation. There are usually snacks on offer.
And, yet, the number of people attending is usually pretty pathetic. The people who do attend have a great opportunity to learn and give input. I still believe this is the most important city meeting of the year.
In 2007, I spent some time personally inviting people to the budget meeting and to a pre-budget event I hosted at the downtown Cowboy Coffee. A lot of people showed interest and the attendance at the budget meeting was much higher.
This makes me wonder what would happen if city hall started officially inviting people to a public budget meeting and perhaps springing for a pre-meeting dinner. Perhaps, invites could go to the heads of the major business, social, cultural, and environmental groups in Kamloops. It would also make sense to formally invite representatives of neighbourhood associations and service clubs. There are other groups and people I am probably missing.
The idea would be to do some active marketing - "your city needs you" type of stuff, but also to make it friendly and inviting.