Want to learn about your city? Here’s how

The Iola Register

If you can’t fight city hall, as the saying goes, then perhaps it’s a better idea to join it. Or at least get an idea of how it works.

Such is the gist behind a forum next week that will explain the ins and outs of city management, including how budgets are set, utility rates are decided and how city sizes — and their importance — are determined.

Call it a primer on city hall.

Most folks are ignorant about how local governments function, said Megan Gilliland, communications and education manager with the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Perhaps it’s because of their hectic schedules, or that they’ve never considered how the decisions that affect their everyday lives are made.

For others, the plethora of rules and regulations can be daunting.

Gilliland hopes to change that by hosting the first-of-its-kind governance workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at LaHarpe City Hall. 

The interactive training session is geared for folks of all stripes, from those considering running for city council, school board or any other agency — those already in such positions are welcome, too — or simply for those who would like to learn more about how their communities function on a daily basis.

The workshop, open to one and all, is funded in part through a Healthy Community Initiative grant awarded to LaHarpe from the Kansas Health Foundation, with one of the tenets of the initiative to foster a more engaged populace.

“When we’re all talking together, that’s when we make the best decisions,” she said. 

 

THE WORKSHOPS are also beneficial for communities that struggle to get more people interested in running for office.

“There’s always going to be a need to add more people,” Gilliland said, and not only for elective positions. There are plenty of committees, boards and other voluntary groups vital to a city’s long-term health.

That’s what she hopes to remedy with Tuesday’s workshop, the first of three LKM will host in LaHarpe by next June.

Among the materials will be a budgeting exercise, to demonstrate how cities function with a finite amount of dollars.

“It’s vital to get more people who understand how a city functions, and better understand why decisions are made,” she said.

The League consists of more than 500 communities statewide, including Iola, Humboldt, Gas, LaHarpe, Bassett and Savonburg in Allen County, and regularly provides informational workshops for elected officials and city employees, but never — until now — offered up anything for the public at large.

The Iola Register

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