STILLWATER, Okla. — The City of Stillwater wants members of its community to play a more active role in the decisions made inside City Hall.
City Manager, Norman McNickle, said about two years ago they sent a satisfaction survey to the public. Results showed residents did not understand budgets and where their tax dollars were going.
"It's very very complicated, even to someone who is familiar with reading normal business budgets," McNickle said.
To change that, the city is introducing new online programs, like Balancing Act, to get residents more involved.
The online simulation shows residents the city's actual revenue and what they are required to fund.
"Police, fire, emergency management, recreation, development services, our airport," McNickle named a few of the departments they fund.
The website tells users what each department or service is responsible for and how much it takes to keep them running.
Users can increase or decrease funding to each department.
Residents can use Tax Payer Receipt that shows about much they contribute through their tax dollars to the city's annual budget.
When they are done, users can hit submit. Their budget will be sent to the city leaders who will use residents' ideas when making FY 2020's budget.
So far, McNickle said they have gotten about 60 budgets submitted. He said roads seem to be their top priority.
"If that is the main thing that citizens want us to do, certainly we will set out to do that," McNickle said. "If I'm wrong about that, we will take a look at whatever it is that comes out number one."
The city hopes all of their residents use the tool, even Oklahoma State students. McNickle said they make up about half of their population. He said many of them stay in Stillwater after they graduate.
In keeping with getting resident's involved, the city launched Flash Vote. It is a monthly five question survey sent out through email, text or phone call.
City leaders might ask questions about zoning changes, budgets or other issues they are looking at.
Budgets submitted by residents must be submitted by the end of March, so suggestions can be taken into account for next year's budget.
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