Based on a discussion coming out of the Philomath City Council’s July 8 meeting, it appears that the Philomath Citizens Academy will be offered for the third straight year.
City Manager Chris Workman planned to begin working on dates and get started with promoting the program to gauge interest. If not enough people register, the program could go on hiatus this fall, although that had not been definitely determined. Workman said if interest is low, it’s possible that the number of sessions could be reduced from eight to four or five.
Workman organized the inaugural Citizens Academy during the summer of 2017. It averaged 12 to 15 participants with eight missing no more than one session. Last year, it was moved to the fall to avoid summer vacations and the program averaged six to eight at each session after 12 or 13 had signed up.
“I really do think there’s a lot of value to it, but maybe we skip a year and see if there’s interest in a few years,” Workman suggested, although he did recommend that it again be offered.
Doug Edmonds, city councilor, said that if the number of registrations doesn’t reach 10, then perhaps it shouldn’t be held. The city does ask staff to participate at some of the sessions.
Councilor Matthew Thomas believes the academy should be held as advertised, even if only a handful sign up. Councilor David Low said he’s “kinda in the middle” on what to do if only a few register but that the program “sends a message, too, that we want to enlighten or educate as much as possible.”
Workman indicated that it might be good to have a certain number attending because the city does enlist the help of other local entities and community organizations.
“The concern is just the amount of time and effort you put into it,” Workman said. “More so, I feel that if I’m asking the library and the other entities to take an evening-plus and then two, three, four people show up,” then maybe that doesn’t meet their expectations.
Councilor Chas Jones was a past participant of the Citizens Academy.
“I know I was kinda embarrassed when we were doing the community organizations meeting and there were many more people representing the community organizations than people attending the Citizens Academy,” he recalled. “I think there’s a balance. If one person signed up, I definitely don’t think it’s worth our time but I’m a big proponent of let’s market it and see how many people we can get enrolled and then let’s make a decision.”
Last year, the academy featured Wednesday evening sessions on an introduction to government, how the city budget works, public safety, public works, Philomath Fire & Rescue, development and land-use planning, the Philomath School District and Philomath Community Library and presentations by community organizations.
Workman said the academy not only serves as an educational and communication tool that brings together the city and residents, but it also might interest someone into volunteering for a city committee.
“It helps people be more aware of community organizations and the city specifically and things we do and that peaks an interest in people when an opening comes up,” Workman said. “They are more likely to engage in that process.”