Questions for Denton City Council& Mayor
What is the most important mechanism for on-going communication between citizens and council members other than citizen appearances at council meetings? Please explain.
We cannot assume that any one mechanism is better, more important or more effective than other communication mechanisms. Society is changing with technology. Councilmembers must make themselves available to citizens through each of the avenues citizens themselves are comfortable with. Anything less risks disenfranchising groups inadvertently. Encouraging citizen involvement on committees, keeping regular open appointments for citizen meetings, regular councilmember appearances at community events/organizations, electronic communications and of course providing dependable access by telephone, mail, etc. – all are important. Fundamentally, it is the attitude of each councilmember toward open, caring, constructive contact that is key to meaningful communication.
If city expenditures must be reduced, do you prefer a system of priorities, across-the-board cuts, or other? Please explain.
It must be by priorities defined both by the policymakers responsible for applying community priorities, both short- and long-term, and by the experts responsible for implementing policy. Knee-jerk, across-the-board “cookie-cutter” cuts are mindless by definition and thus may provide some political cover to the elected officials, but risk far more in potential damage to our most essential services through thoughtless cuts.
Do you think the current mechanism for rezoning property sufficiently protects the integrity of residential neighborhoods? Please explain.
Exceptions exist to every rule, so while current rezoning rules may protect the majority of neighboring property uses, negative examples can always arise. Therefore, the Council must be ever vigilant in ascertaining where protections might have failed or are at risk for failure and be prepared to creatively, proactively address weaknesses as discovered.
Under what circumstances would you contract out services as opposed to maintaining in-house expertise? Please give 3 examples.
Because the breadth of City services and activities is so wide, the need for technical expertise arises every day. If a sufficient volume of activity demanding a specific expert background exists, hiring additional permanent staff is very efficient. Examples include hiring the City arborist and a gas well inspector. If the need for expertise is intermittent or for an extremely narrow field of expertise, using outside experts as needed is most efficient. Examples include outside attorneys for federal court, utility rate litigation, etc., and using engineering consultants when designing a water treatment plant and other highly specialized facilities.