City government exists to serve residents, but it can’t effectively do that without citizen engagement. Resident participation and oversight of city government helps promote transparency in city affairs and is crucial to ensuring good governance and service that is responsive and effective.
Kerrville is blessed to have a very strong, civic-minded citizenry that actively provides guidance and leadership regarding the city’s direction on a daily basis.
For many years, 79 citizens have served on 10 boards and commissions in the city.
These include the Building Board of Adjustments and Appeals (seven committee members), the Economic Improvement Corporation (seven members), the Food Advisory Service Board (seven members), the Kerrville-Kerr County Joint Airport Board (seven members), the Library Advisory Board (five members), the Kerrville Youth Advisory Committee (15 members), the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (nine members), the Planning and Zoning Commission (seven members), the Recovery Community Coalition (15 members), and the Zoning Board of Adjustments (seven members).
Over the past two years, the number of residents serving on boards and commissions has increased dramatically by 62 percent to 128 individuals with the addition of the Charter Review Commission (seven committee members), the Kerrville 2050 Code Review Committee (15), the new Senior Services Advisory Committee (13), and the Mayor’s Task Force on Workforce Housing (14).
As the above boards and commissions indicate, public input and influence on shaping city policy has been growing, and with the diverse makeup of our boards, that input comes from people of all ages and social, economic, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds. The primary qualification for board or commission service is, quite simply, a willingness to serve.
Kerrville residents have repeatedly shown that willingness. The recently completed Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan, which will serve as a development roadmap for the city over the next three decades, was created by unprecedented public participation. The plan received input from a number of sources, most notably the 42-member Steering Committee and the 77 individuals serving on subcommittees.
In addition, hundreds of citizens provided input and insight on the Plan in four open houses, a community retreat, two online surveys and a “State of the City” survey. While there is not 100 percent agreement on every item in the plan, Kerrville 2050 is indeed the community’s plan because of the extraordinary level of community involvement in its development.
For residents who do not serve on a board or commission, the city provides numerous other opportunities to express their opinions and share their ideas, with the easiest being to directly contact a city employee through our city website and social media.
The city also provides an open forum at the beginning of each city council meeting where citizens can speak on any topic that isn’t already slated to be discussed on that meeting’s regular agenda. If a citizen wishes to comment on an agenda item, they simply need to fill out a speaker request form prior to the start of the meeting.
In 2016, the city also began soliciting citizen feedback for the first time through a periodic scientific survey that reaches a random sampling of 1,800 households. Residents can engage in an open forum on our Facebook page as well, where more than 5,000 followers are currently keeping up with city news on a regular basis. In response to resident interest, the city now distributes a periodic hard-copy newsletter through the newspaper. Finally, this month we are releasing a new phone app that will further amplify citizen interaction and access to information for citizens and tourists alike.
In summary, it is important that your voice is heard in shaping our city — so important that the motto for Kerrville 2050 is “Your Voice, Your City.”
Let us hear your voice through one or more of the opportunities mentioned above. The future of our city depends on it.
Mark McDaniel is the city manager for the city of Kerrville. He can be reached at 258-1110 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.