Online agendas save money, encourage citizen participation

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Both the city of Marysville and the city of Arlington should be commended for their efforts to post their respective City Council agendas online. The move should save time and money and, hopefully, increase the publics participation in the governing process by making the information more accessible to members of the community.
But while both cities post their Councils agendas online, there are some differences in the way in which they do it and both could take a page from the others handbook to improve the online service they provide to their communities.
The best thing about the Marysville City Councils online agenda is that it is complete and comprehensive not only does it include the agenda, it also includes all of the attachments and supporting documents. And, because the complete packet can include hundreds of pages of information, visitors to the Web site are given some options to view and download all or parts of the packet. With a single click of the mouse the entire packet can be downloaded. Or, if someone is interested in only one item on the agenda, they can download just the supporting documents for that agenda item. Access to the information is easy simply go www.marysvilleglobe.com and click on City of Marysville or go to the citys Web site at ci.marysville.wa.us, go to the menu bar on the left side and select Government, then Council Agenda, and select which agenda and what information you want.
While the city of Arlingtons online agenda isnt as comprehensive as the city of Marysvilles (it offers the agendas but none of the attachments or supporting documents), it does have some nice features that Marysville should consider incorporating into its Web site.
The best things about Arlingtons Web site are that it is diverse and proactive. Not only can a resident find the City Councils agenda on the citys Web site, other agendas such as the Planning Commission and Airport Commission are also available. To find these agendas, one can go to www.arlingtontimes.com and click on City of Arlington or go the citys Web site at ci.arlington.wa.us, go to the calendar on the right side of the home page and click on one of the listings where they will be able to view the agenda. The Arlington Web site is also proactive in that residents can sign up for email alerts notifying them when the new agendas are available for viewing. Residents can sign up for email alerts regarding Airport Commission Agenda and Minutes, Airport Newsletter, City Council Agenda, Employment Opportunities, Olympic Avenue Updates, Planning Commission Agenda and Road Closures Notifications. To register for the email updates, go to the citys Web site, click on Email Sign-up and complete the form. Its an easy way to keep informed on whats happening in city government.
While it is important that the cities make the information easily accessible, whats more important is how the public uses that information. With a few keystrokes and click of a mouse, residents can keep themselves informed about the important issues being handled by their elected officials. Hopefully a more informed public will become a more involved public.

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey, Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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