City starting educational campaign

The City of Yuma is ramping up an extensive public information campaign to better educate the community about the municipal government — particularly the services provided through the General Fund.
Part of the plan is to also have a revenue-enhancing ballot question before the voters in November.
City leaders have commented that it is becoming difficult to maintain all services at the current level without more revenue.
However, City Manager Scott Moore made it a point during Monday’s Yuma City Council workshop, conducted virtually on Zoom, that the effort to better inform the public should have been done long ago, and likely will continue even after this year.
“We really do care,” he said.
City employees Candy Gilliland and Lonnie Metzler outlined the educational campaign Monday during the workshop. Council members that participated were Marc Shay, Marylu Smith-Dischner, Tim McClung and mayor Ron Swehla.
Gilliland noted the campaign is flexible in that it could change a bit moving forward depending upon feedback.
A key component is getting feedback from the public — accepting comments and answering questions.
The city, starting later this week, will be providing educational outreach videos, interviews and postings on its social media platforms, and will do so three to four times per month in the first three quarters of 2021.
The educational process also will include explaining the difference between the city’s Enterprise Funds and the General Fund.
In January, the effort will highlight the Street Department crew, the animal shelter and — if it snows — snow removal. There also will be a survey question about what people would like to see from the city.The campaign will cycle through the various departments, along with what goes on at City Hall, through the upcoming months. It will highlight what the city does, and how it does it, as well as feature the people working for the city
Public feedback will be taken throughout the campaign. However, comments and questions by a particular person will not be seen by others, as they will be transmitted by direct message to city staff.
Swehla said he thought that might be more conducive than public meetings as people might be more willing to share their thoughts and ask questions, noting it will take away self-consciousness and peer pressure people might feel in a public setting.
Moore said the city staff is going to have to rely on council members to promote the campaign to the public.
“Any comments you guys have, we’re going to need that,” he said.
McClung, referring to the campaign’s timeline, commented that whenever a decision is made for a November ballot question, then the city and council will have to cut off promoting. However, Moore said the campaign is about promoting how the city operates, not an election.
McClung then asked about getting community members involved to champion the campaign, noting it is helpful to turn detractors into proponents.
Moore said he thinks the people of Yuma like the services provided by the city, “they just don’t understand us.”
Smith-Dischner suggested using actual pictures of Yumans in the materials instead of stock photos. She also said the city’s Facebook posts might need “boosted” to get better attention. Metzler explained ways of possibly getting the city’s social media postings in front of the public more effectively.
Shay asked about reaching citizens who don’t use social media much. Gilliland said the city’s website and the newspaper would be utilized also.
“It’s an excellent starting place,” Swehla said.