Citizens seek positions in local government for various reasons. It’s a chance to work collaboratively with others in the community to help form their vision of what the community should be. It’s a chance to be more intrinsically involved in the community they love.
Soon after a successful election campaign, newly elected public officials begin to feel the weight of their responsibility as worry about the community’s state of affairs sets in — worry that often keeps them awake at night. At iCompass, we took some guesses about the kinds of issues that create extreme worry for public officials. Our survey told us we were right on all accounts, including the top-five most worrisome issues for municipalities.
What Kinds of Issues Keep Local Government Officials Awake at Night?
We developed some questions about issues we suspected worried local government officials most:
- Increasing citizen engagement
- Legislative/regulatory changes
- Council-staff relationship
- Managing increasing citizen expectations
- Transparent and open government
- Asset management
- Community planning issues
- Strategic planning/council’s vision
- Operational inefficiencies
- Community growth
- Marijuana licensing
- Managing short-term rentals
- Labor relations
- The budget
- Recruitment and retention
In addition to our list, we also put out an open-ended question to find out if we had missed any issues. Local public officials told us they also worried about social issues like drug abuse, poverty and mental health. The survey also revealed a host of other issues, including infrastructure, intergovernmental relations and transportation.
The Top-Five Things That Keep Local Government Officials Awake at Night
Our survey revealed some interesting results. The top-five most worrisome issues for local government officials ranked fairly closely to one another. There was only about a 3% difference between the #1 and the #5 answers.
#1 Community Growth
Our survey showed that the #1 most concerning issue for communities is community growth. Working toward growing and expanding communities is important for a variety of reasons. Organizing and planning within communities creates opportunities for employment and boosting the economy. In turn, sound planning also reduces incidences of poverty and suffering within communities. Community growth incorporates the community’s goals for their society, economy, culture and environment. All of these issues help citizens develop well-rounded and healthy lifestyles. About 43% of local government officials lie awake at night thinking about how to grow their communities.
#2 Strategic Planning/Council’s Vision
In addition to setting goals, the role of municipal boards is to figure out the best steps for accomplishing them. Strategic planning provides a roadmap for what steps the community needs to take and when they need to take them to develop the community. Responsible planning creates a systemic process that anticipates and plans for the future while managing time constraints and the budget. Fulfilling the council’s vision also helps to balance the demands of all the constituencies within the community. About 42% of our survey respondents said that they worried about whether their strategic planning was on target to achieve the desired future for their community.
#3 The Budget
While budget wasn’t the #1 concern, as you might expect, it ran close as a top worry for about 42% of local officials who answered our survey. The budget links to a broad view of the community’s goals and focuses on getting the best outcome-based value. Well-managed budgets provide government employees with the satisfaction that they’re contributing directly to the community’s overall health and well-being.
Budget planning keeps officials up at night more often than it should because of the challenge of balancing short- and long-term perspectives and creating openness and transparency to the public on how the council is working toward reaching its goals.
#4 Community Planning Issues
Municipal boards spend much of their time planning and discussing issues pertaining to the community’s infrastructure. About 41% of public officials worried extensively about community planning issues such as transportation, parking, the high cost of homeownership in relation to average incomes, and how to maximize technology to gain efficiency.
#5 Increasing Citizen Engagement
Increasing citizen engagement was another top concern for public officials, though it ranked very close to the other issues. Public input is an important part of the democratic decision-making process and it often influences public decisions that impact the community’s future. The public provides new ideas and an exchange of information that builds mutual responsibility and accountability for the board and the public. About 40% of public officials indicated that they were worrying more than they should over how to increase citizen engagement in decision-making.
Government Software Solutions Resolve Issues That Plague Local Government Officials
iCompass solves the top-five issues that are keeping public officials up at night with technological solutions for meeting management and government efficiency. iCompass’s solutions take the worry out of governing communities of every size with software solutions that are designed with community governments in mind.
Meeting Manager centralizes information from the agenda, minutes and other records, making it available in real time. This platform provides the necessary information that empowers municipal boards to focus in on the key issues in their communities in order to support their vision and strategic plans.
Our clients report a measurable, and often substantial, return on their investment in our governance solutions. iCompass’s products typically have a positive impact on the budget, as they help to reduce operating costs and save time and materials.
The solutions that iCompass designed provide a platform to gain public visibility and encourage greater insight and feedback from employees and the public around the community planning issues they care about most. Collaboration between government and the community creates a culture of community support for governmental innovations and efforts.
Our survey showed that openness and transparency is more than part of good governance. It’s an issue that is equally important to elected officials and citizens. Video Manager allows the public to view your meetings online via a live-streaming YouTube platform.
iCompass provides software that enables private citizens to access board meeting agendas, meeting minutes and other records easily online through the board portal. These solutions are a mobile-friendly way to help boards to increase citizen engagement.
Our communities are the places where we live, work and play. Everyone in the community has a vested interest in creating happy, healthy and thriving communities. iCompass has the tools to take communities to the next level and to solve many of the problems that prevent public officials from getting the proper rest needed to fulfill their duly sworn duties.