Cityscape August 2013 : Page 4

President’s Viewpoint l It’s no secret: we’re better together he recently concluded legislative session saw a property tax compromise pass that will certainly impact city revenues over the coming years. Between backfill provisions and phased-in elements of the bill, cities will slowly begin to feel the pressure of this new legislation. Even the most immediate provisions of the bill will take some time to process. This property tax legislation created many ques-tions, and our cities will have to come up with well-reasoned, responsible answers. So here’s our struggle: In a world of instant news feeds, how do cities prepare their citizens for budget issues that are years away or not yet able to be determined due to a lack of data? How do we as city officials demonstrate the impact of any legislation to our state legislators without being perceived as the proverbial “Chicken Little?” How do cities keep a unified voice when the various elements of legislation impact each city dif -ferently? My experience tells me that city officials will approach these concerns cautiously— making changes early in an effort to flexibly absorb any revenue shortfalls or restriction of decision-making. So I am using my last magazine column as your League president to ask that you take note of the decisions that your city makes over the coming years, and explain the impact to your citizens and legislators. Many times the technical nature of certain parts of city governance never leaves the council chamber. Budgeting gets placed in large categories of “city services” and citizens frequently miss that our decisions mean police officers on our streets or programs in our parks and recreation departments. I think we as city officials have to look for ways to better explain the operations of our cities. It’s time to break out the charts and graphs and take your message to the streets. We need to share positive examples of what our cities are doing and help educate people outside of our council chambers on the real pressures facing city governments. We can no longer wait for the citizen to walk into our city hall or read the newspaper publications. We have to take our story to them. This will not be a “one and done” effort. Marketing pros know that you have to repeat and repackage your message for success. That means you’ll need to take this story to your local Rotary group, your neighborhood associations and the chamber of commerce. Every time you are scheduled to make this presentation, invite your legislators to attend. Consider sitting down with your local government reporter or reaching out to a local radio station as well. What I am asking you to do is the very definition of grassroots advocacy. While the League’s advocacy team is taking similar steps to share the city story with legislators and the media, your version of the story is more compelling, powerful and must be told. In fact, the League would love to get copies of how you are telling your city story. It will help give context to the League’s statewide advocacy efforts. I thank you for your commitment to good government and very much appreci-ate the opportunity to serve as your League President. Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson T Reynold Peterson | Spencer Mayor | President, Iowa League of Cities EXECUTIVE BOARD President: Reynold Peterson, Mayor, Spencer, (712) 580-7200 l Immediate Past President: Kris Gulick, Council Member, Cedar Rapids, (319) 286-5051 | Past President: Ruth Randleman, Mayor, Carlisle, (515) 989-3224 l Past President: Terry Donahue, Council Member, North Liberty, (319) 626-3774 DIRECTORS Patty Anderson, City Clerk/Administrator, Hartley, (712) 928-2240 l Lori Brown, City Clerk, Wilton, (563) 732-2115 | Ann Campbell, Mayor, Ames, (515) 239-5105 l Kim Downs, City Clerk, Hiawatha, (319) 393-1515 | Jim Ferneau, City Administrator, Burlington, (319) 753-8124 l Clint Fichter, City Manager, Avoca, (712) 343-2424 l Linda Gaul, City Clerk, Earlville, (563) 923-3365 l James Gourley, Mayor, Corwith, (515) 583-2340 l Jim Heavens, Mayor, Dyersville, (563) 875-7996 | Gregg Mandsager, City Administrator/Clerk, Muscatine, (563) 264-1550 | Scott Peterson, City Administrator/Clerk, Lake View, (712) 657-2634 | Matt Walsh, Council Member, Council Bluffs, (712) 328-4616 | Warren Woods, Mayor, Creston, (641) 782-2000 LEAGUE STAFF Elisabeth Bender, Administrative Assistant l Bruce E. Bergman, General Counsel l Shannon Busby, Office Manager l Bethany Crile, Com-munications Coordinator l Alison R. Deiter, Accountant l Kim Gannon, Claims Examiner l Monica Grubbs, Administrative Assistant l Jeff Hovey, Director of Risk Services l Matt Jackson, Claims Manager | Cindy Kendall, Extension Program Specialist l Tim Kirgan, Marketing Manager l Alan Kemp, Executive Director | Phil Marcuson, IT Project Manager l Jenny McKenzie, Medical-Only Claims Examiner l Dustin Miller, Governmental Affairs Manager Dana Monosmith, Controller l Erin Mullenix, Research and Fiscal Analyst | Ed Morrison, Loss Control Representative l Ryan Pealer, IT Tech Support Cale Rizer, Medical Only Claims Examiner l Heather Roberts, Director of Information Services l Dean Schade, Senior Loss Control Representative Mickey Shields, Assistant Director of Membership Services l Ron Sinnwell, Loss Control Coordinator l Terry Timmins, General Counsel Mark Tomb, Direc-tor of Membership Services l Amanda Werner, Administrative Assistant l Katie Wheeler, Graphic Designer | Chuck Williams, R.N., Senior Claims Examiner Tiffani Williamson, Accounting Assistant 4 Cityscape August 2013

President’s Viewpoint

It’s no secret: we’re better together<br /> <br /> Reynold Peterson | Spencer Mayor | President, Iowa League of Cities<br /> <br /> The recently concluded legislative session saw a property tax compromise pass that will certainly impact city revenues over the coming years. Between backfill provisions and phased-in elements of the bill, cities will slowly begin to feel the pressure of this new legislation. Even the most immediate provisions of the bill will take some time to process. This property tax legislation created many questions, and our cities will have to come up with well-reasoned, responsible answers.<br /> <br /> So here’s our struggle: In a world of instant news feeds, how do cities prepare their citizens for budget issues that are years away or not yet able to be determined due to a lack of data? How do we as city officials demonstrate the impact of any legislation to our state legislators without being perceived as the proverbial “Chicken Little?” How do cities keep a unified voice when the various elements of legislation impact each city differently?<br /> <br /> My experience tells me that city officials will approach these concerns cautiously— making changes early in an effort to flexibly absorb any revenue shortfalls or restriction of decision-making. So I am using my last magazine column as your League president to ask that you take note of the decisions that your city makes over the coming years, and explain the impact to your citizens and legislators. Many times the technical nature of certain parts of city governance never leaves the council chamber. Budgeting gets placed in large categories of “city services” and citizens frequently miss that our decisions mean police officers on our streets or programs in our parks and recreation departments.<br /> <br /> I think we as city officials have to look for ways to better explain the operations of our cities. It’s time to break out the charts and graphs and take your message to the streets. We need to share positive examples of what our cities are doing and help educate people outside of our council chambers on the real pressures facing city governments. We can no longer wait for the citizen to walk into our city hall or read the newspaper publications. We have to take our story to them.<br /> <br /> This will not be a “one and done” effort. Marketing pros know that you have to repeat and repackage your message for success. That means you’ll need to take this story to your local Rotary group, your neighborhood associations and the chamber of commerce. Every time you are scheduled to make this presentation, invite your legislators to attend. Consider sitting down with your local government reporter or reaching out to a local radio station as well.<br /> <br /> What I am asking you to do is the very definition of grassroots advocacy. While the League’s advocacy team is taking similar steps to share the city story with legislators and the media, your version of the story is more compelling, powerful and must be told. In fact, the League would love to get copies of how you are telling your city story. It will help give context to the League’s statewide advocacy efforts. I thank you for your commitment to good government and very much appreciate the opportunity to serve as your League President.<br /> <br /> Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson

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