Want to learn more about your local government? The town of Longboat Key is one step ahead of you.
Citizens Academy is an interactive crash course offered by the town of Longboat Key about the ins and outs of the local government, its services and present and future projects. It will run for seven consecutive Wednesdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m Jan. 17 through Feb. 28.
“This class gives people a better appreciation for how special this town is, and the people who work here,” said Susan Phillips, assistant to the town manager. “Also how accessible every employee is. If somebody calls my office with a question, I know I'm going to send them directly to whoever is the best person to answer their question. They get a real person, not just an answering machine.”
Each week different town departments will give insight into what they do. Presentations might include a tour of facilities, showing some of the equipment used and how a given department affects the town.
The departments leading the sessions include: the Town Manager, Town Attorney, Town Clerk, Finance Department, Information Technology, Planning, Zoning and Building, Code Enforcement, Support Services, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Fire Rescue and the police. Each department will provide refreshments for the participants.
These departments will cover topics including: a history and overview of the government, town charter, town elections, how tax dollars are being spent, maintaining neighborhood standards, wellness programs, human resources, town facilities, public safety, emergency services and much more.
“Every one of them is different, so each session is different,” said Phillips. “Their different personalities and the backgrounds lead to people having different questions. The class ends up being very interactive, so those questions, the conversation and interaction with the class really adds so much value to us. It's good for us to meet our demographic. They let us know what we're doing that impacts their lives. And we can enhance our services based on some of the conversations we have with them."
Phillips said it is a great opportunity to learn about what the town has planned for the future and how it wants to keep providing Longboat Key with the best services possible.
“We plan ahead,” said Phillips. “In local government, you have to be visionary to keep your community the best it could be. So, we're always looking forward. In this class, we share with them what we're doing to enhance Longboat’s future.”
There are 25 spots for the Citizen Academy. More than half of the spots are full so those interested are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible. Participants are expected to be able to attend all sessions to have a well-rounded understanding of the town government and its services.