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Your City — Your Choice? | Letter
The Redmond administration should be complimented on expanded budget outreach efforts evident in recent weeks through a range of channels, including the Focus on Redmond newsletter that recently arrived in the mail and “Your City, Your Choice,” the infomercials and online budget priority survey launched last month. More information is being provided earlier in the budget process than was the case in the last cycle. This should help city leaders be more responsive to public inputs before the budget gets to its final stages this fall. The online survey is an immediate opportunity to learn about city priorities and add priorities of your own. (There was also a “Your City, Your Choice” booth at Derby Days.)
Curiously, Redmond residents do not feel overly connected to their city, according to Redmond’s biennial Citizen Surveys. In the 2013 survey, 79 percent of Redmond citizens felt confident in city growth management (up from 67 percent in the 2011 survey), but only 11 percent followed city issues closely. In the 2011 survey, only 52 percent felt the city was listening to or acting on their inputs. As of July 2, only 2 percent of Redmond citizens had voted on the city’s current budget priorities. (Specific survey data is at www.redmond.gov/Government/FinanceandBudget/Budget and www.redmond.gov/Government/Communications/CitizenSurveys/)
Now is the time to either accept items proposed by the administration or suggest measures that tailor them more closely to your vision and values. (The “Clean and Green” budget priority has topped citizen voting to date.) Sustainable Redmond and Imagine Overlake (a project of Sustainable Redmond) made the three specific proposals below in the June 17 public hearing. (More details on these three proposals can be found at www.sustainableredmond.org.)
We want … Geographic equity in urban park investment — Investment in downtown parks and recreational facilities should not preclude timely public investment in Overlake parks.
We want … An Overlake tree preservation land bank — Innovative public action might be able to preserve a small grove of mature evergreens that remain on the former Group Health site and provide a natural urban refuge that would otherwise be lost.
We want … A budget line item specifically addressing community development noticing and outreach — More than two years of thoughtful Sustainable Redmond engagement in city planning and communications processes have yet to show any acknowledgement or results from Redmond city staff or leadership.
Please take the city at its word and make Your Choices known to the leaders of Your City. They really want to hear from you … but in return, it is also incumbent upon them to respond to public comments in a clear and timely fashion.
Tom Hinman, Sustainable Redmond board member