What are neighborhood councils?
The City of Kent is committed to promoting and sustaining an environment that is responsive to citizen involvement. In June 2006, the City Council approved the formation of the City’s Neighborhood Program, allowing the establishment of neighborhood councils. These councils serve as independent, non-profit citizen organizations to promote citizen-based efforts for neighborhood improvements. Each Neighborhood Council also establishes a partnership between City government and the neighborhood it serves.
What do the neighborhood councils do?
The councils host meetings along with presentations related to local issues, support community events, and generally act as a sounding board for citizens within their neighborhood council. Each council is supported on a staff level by the Neighborhood Program Coordinator who assists where needed, provides information and serves as a liaison for neighborhood organizing.
When and where are the meetings?
Each neighborhood council sets its own meeting place, time and agendas. The public is welcome to attend.
Who can be a member?
Any resident, property owner, and business within the neighborhood boundaries may participate or be a member. The board could consist of any resident, property owner, or business of a Kent neighborhood in which they may be nominated and voted in to fill a vacancy on the council serving that neighborhood. Each neighborhood council determines the size and structure of the board. Guidelines are written in the by-laws then vote on by the neighborhood it serves.
What incentive do citizens have to get involved in their neighborhood council?
For Kent to become a more livable, safe and united city, a broad and diverse cross section of citizens should join together to develop projects and implement positive changes in their neighborhoods.
What is a neighborhood council required to do?
Neighborhood councils should:
- Maintain itself as an independent non-profit organization
- Adopt by-laws, rules and procedures
- Recruit a diverse membership
- Develop an annual plan, supporting budget and provide them to the Neighborhood Program Office
- Document activities in a written end of the year annual report to the Neighborhood Program Office
- Meet at least four times a year
In what kind of activities do the neighborhood councils get involved with?
Because each neighborhood council is independent, citizens from each neighborhood decide their own specific mission and activities, though they should:
- Seek consensus and provide citizens with opportunities to advise the Neighborhood Coordinator, the Mayor or the City Council on issues important to each neighborhood
- Undertake a wide range of neighborhood improvement projects and activities as determined by neighborhood residents
- Identify and develop solutions to mutual problems with cooperation from the City
How does the City support neighborhood councils?
With the creation of neighborhood councils, the City has made a commitment to:
- Mobilize existing resources to respond to the needs of Neighborhood Councils
- Notify neighborhood councils of planned or proposed land-use projects, meetings, hearings, elections and other opportunities for citizen participation
- Fund neighborhood improvement projects through a competitive matching grant process with funds set aside by the City Council
- Opportunities for neighborhood councils to partake on Kent T21
What role does the Neighborhood Program Coordinator serve?
The Neighborhood Program Coordinator serves the neighborhood councils by:
- Identifying and resolving special needs, requests, concerns or complaints
- Tracks and advocates for neighborhood council requests through City government to ensure timely responses
- Attends neighborhood council meetings as requested by neighborhood
- Assists in preparing written materials for neighborhood councils as requested
- Provide information and assist with presentations
- Coordinates with the councils and various city departments to create action plans strategies
Is this just another layer of government bureaucracy?
No. The neighborhood councils remove bureaucratic barriers so citizens can have direct access to the decision making process as advisors to the Mayor and the City Council and as change agents for the City government.
Is there a way to share information between neighborhood councils?
Yes. Each recognized neighborhood council has board/officer positions. The neighborhood council’s contact information is listed on the Neighborhood Program website under the neighborhood council’s link. This can serve as a forum for communication and discussion of issues of broad community interest. There is also an annual Neighborhood Council Leadership Workshop where leaders get together to learn new ideas from each other.
Where can I get more information about neighborhood councils?
Simply call the City’s Neighborhood Program Office at 253-856-5708, or stop by the Mayor’s office located on the 2nd floor of Kent City Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S.
How can I serve on a neighborhood council?
Council members are elected by those who attend regular meetings when elections are held.