Columbia City Council wards begins tests of new online tool

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Columbia Ward Check-Ins might look a little different in the coming months.

Columbia Ward Check-Ins are opportunities for people who live in different wards to meet with their Columbia City Council representative, the manager, and city department heads and staff. The check-ins are biannually for each ward. 

First Ward residents met Tuesday and were given an interactive exercise to exemplify what the city's new online interactive tool might be.The interactive tool is designed to collect citizen feedback on potential capital improvement projects. The feedback will be considered in the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Ballot decision-making process.

Management Fellow of the City Management Office Leah Christian said this online tool is designed to function like Kickstarter and Facebook. The tool will "be a way to find out what people want us to spend the money on, and what's important to them and where their priorities are," Christian said.

"In a sense, it's a way to engage citizens before we put capital improvement project on the ballot in August of 2015," she said.

The tool will be designed to get opinions from citizens on what city projects will be included on the upcoming CIP ballot, and citizens can even suggest their own projects for others to vote on.

"So far we looked at two online interactive tools," Christian said. "We'll probably be testing them throughout the fall and then hopefully in January 2015 we'll be able to roll those out for citizens to use."

People at Tuesday's meeting were split into small groups and taken through a mock CIP ballot decision-making process.

"At all the ward check ins coming up we will have a sign-up sheet for folks that are interested in being alerted when that starts. And so what we'll do is we'll turn their information in and when the tool goes live people will have an option of using it."

One Columbia resident who did not want to be named said this has been a good way to involve residents.

"I just wish there were more people," she said.

Director of Housing Authority Phil Steinhaus said, "It's a good way to discuss how to balance the budget."

The City's online interactive tool is scheduled to be up in January 2015. You can visit the city website to know when your ward will have its next check in.