Roundtable City budget format pure genius

THURSDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Every once in awhile an idea comes along you wish you’d thought of sooner.

Such as setting up roundtables at City budget meetings instead of having everybody sit in rows of chairs, theatre style. For years, City council struggled in its efforts to get people interested in the budget process.

Residents crowd around parks and rec table at public meting.

Roundtable discussion. Brilliant.

Year after year, they would practically beg people to come. They would park fire trucks outside in hopes people would come out of curiosity about all the fancy equipment their tax dollars were paying for. Staff worked diligently on their Powerpoints to try to make them more interesting. Agendas were tinkered with to encourage questions from the public.

And, year after year, 10 or 12 people would show up. Sometimes the same 10 or 12 people. A couple of years ago, there was quite a bit of interest in transit issues, and a couple of dozen people attended, a good sign.

Tuesday night, the City tried the roundtable approach again. People came. A hundred of them. Staff had to go out and make more photocopies because they ran out.

Only a few years ago, if you’d predicted 100 people would show up for a budget meeting, you’d have been laughed at, or carted off to the rubber room.

But there they were, and not just there, either. They were engaged. Spirited. Interested. They were thankful, even, for the opportunity.

It’s because the roundtable format relieves the boredom that comes with sitting around. You can stand up, walk around, listen in at and talk at one table, then move along to another if you like. No microphone to be afraid of, no spotlight. Just talking at a table.

Pure genius.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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