Bangor taking steps to improve communication with residents

Posted Feb. 08, 2010, at 9:01 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The city is taking steps to create a citizen e-mail and text message alert system to open up the line of communication between Bangor residents and their municipal staff and elected officials.

The changes will be rolled out in the next few weeks and will be followed by additional changes to the city’s Web site as a means of improving the transparency of city government.

“We’ve recognized that there is a need to have more citizen-speak than government-speak, especially on the Web site,” said Councilor Cary Weston, who has spearheaded the effort. “It’s not as user-friendly as it could be. It’s set up to showcase government and communicate from the inside out, instead of the other way around.”

In the next few weeks, the city will launch a trial of the alert system to a small group of residents who already are signed up to get City Council agendas. That list will grow from there.

“We need to fully understand how this will work and make sure it does what it’s intended,” city finance director Debbie Cyr said. “This is really meant to help the public.”

The alert system will feature categories of interests that can be checked off when signing up, such as: meeting cancellations, items of interest on agendas, parking bans, voting notices and others items.

In addition to the enhanced communications efforts, councilors and staff are working to create a “Citizen 101” brochure that will be sent out to residents with their next tax bills. Weston said the brochure, which also will be posted online, will include frequently asked questions and a directory to city hall’s departments from a resident’s point of view.

“The changes that are being considered for our recycling system is a perfect example of the things we want to communicate to citizens,” he said. “The best part is that we can expand on this as we go along.”

The City’s Web site is www.bangormaine.gov.

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