Wichita City Staff Turns to Social Media for Public Input on Budget

The city's budget officer highlights the importance of citizen engagement and said some of the suggestions received last year have already been implemented.

by Beccy Tanner, McClatchy News Service / May 21, 2014 0

Wichita city officials are hoping social media such as Facebook and Twitter will help residents have more input in developing the 2015-16 city budget.

A social media town hall meeting will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday where people can comment via Facebook or Twitter. All they have to do is like the city of Wichita on Facebook or follow the city of Wichita on Twitter.

“Engagement is very important to the city budget process,” said Mark Manning, the city’s budget officer.

Last year, in a similar project, 671 social media comments were received with more than 66,000 page views.

“That far exceeded our expectations,” Manning said. “We hope we do better this year.”

Some of the suggestions received last year have already been implemented, Manning said. Residents suggested converting turf to wildflowers and native grasses; keeping the Wichita Police Department’s mounted units and air patrol as well as planning the future of O.J. Watson Park.

Another social media town hall meeting will be held 1:30 to 3 p.m. June 18.

The city staff, including Mayor Carl Brewer, are expected to actively engage in commenters from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The pages will be monitored afterward for further comments from residents.

Specific topics the city would like feedback on, Manning said, include animal control service, snow removal, street and pathway maintenance, community engagement and the use of technology, such as apps to better serve and engage residents.

Typically the city’s budget totals more than $500 million.

Other opportunities for residents to listen to the proposed budget include District Advisory Board Meetings scheduled June 2, 3, 4 and June 16.

City Manager Robert Layton is expected to present the proposed budget to the City Council on July 15. The City Council is expected to take final action on the budget on Aug. 12.

©2014 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)