Budget engagement continues as Council holds interactive hearing
The Atlanta City Council continues to innovate amid the telework protocol initiated amid COVID-19. On Tuesday, June 2, the Council held its first interactive community budget hearing through remote access, allowing the public to comment on and ask questions about the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
For the budget session, the Council faced the challenge of needing to hold the hearings remotely because of COVID-19, while also ensuring the public could access and listen to the session and have their questions answered.
District 6 Council member Jennifer Ide, chair of the Finance/Executive Committee, presided over the meeting and called on and recognized City officials to help answer questions from the public. For public comment, the Council heard from residents through email, text messages, social media, and video submissions.
“With social distancing and our telework protocol in place, we’ve had to reengineer how we do business and our budget hearing is no different,” Ide said. “It’s a testament to our Council staff that it was a success and it’s always positive to see the engagement and the interest that our residents show in the budget process. It’s vitally important that the public have their questions answered and for all of their comments to be available to us as we move forward and make decisions on the budget.”
More than 100 public comments and questions were submitted as part of the budget hearing. For public comment, 69 came in through email, including 9 as video submissions, 34 texts, 10 from Facebook, and two through Twitter. Additionally, more than 600 submissions came in following the deadline through various platforms.
All the comments and submissions from the public are provided to City Council as deliberations occur around the budget.
For the budget hearing, the community could listen through a conference line or follow the broadcast of the meeting as it was simulcast on the Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages, YouTube channel, and Channel 26.
The Council has taken proactive steps to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by adjusting regular operations. Atlanta City Hall and other municipal buildings were closed to the public in mid-March. Employees able to complete their work offsite during the public health emergency have been working remotely in a telecommuting mode. Staff have been able to use remote access to hold meetings, respond to phone calls, and send and receive emails as part of the telework protocol.