Holmes Beach invites citizens to department forums

Creating a proactive atmosphere is a New Year’s resolution the city of Holmes Beach can live up to.

Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between the public and government, which has led the city of Holmes Beach to begin bimonthly community forums with the goal to improve collaboration for the city and the community, according to city human resource analyst Mary Buonagura

“The disconnect is evidenced by numbers of calls to the action line and incidents and/or questions met in the field,” according to the documented plan by Buonagura dated Dec. 8, 2016.

City departments with the most public contact will each host a forum in an effort to improve outreach to citizens. Buonagura hopes feedback from the community could lead to greater collaboration between the public and staff.

“The notion that government supports the status quo and does not listen is a notion over which we have some control,” Buonagura wrote.

The goal, according to Buonagura, is to share and exchange information with the public and come to a better understanding as to how staff functions in the city.

The first forum, set for Jan. 26, is with the code enforcement department, including topics like the role of a code enforcement officer and the future of code enforcement, code enforcement officer JT Thomas said.

“Our goal is to try and educate and create an atmosphere where people can find out who are your new code enforcement officers,” Thomas said. He has been serving the city in his position for a year and a half, and he has worked in code enforcement for more than 20 years, including for the cities of Bradenton and Sarasota.

The second goal of the project, Thomas said, is to find out what the public wants from code enforcement in the future.

“Don’t just come and complain about what we don’t do,” Thomas said. “I’m going to turn right around and say, ‘What do you suggest?’ We’re open to suggestions.”

Additional forums will involve police, public works, city administration and the clerks and the building department. Each forum, held in commission chambers, will feature an hour-long presentation and 30 minutes for questions and comments.

Thomas said he’s excited for the opportunity to promote transparency and create a proactive atmosphere.

“I want them, when they walk away from the meeting, to say, ‘These guys have our best interest,’” he said, adding he would rather not wait for complaints to reach the police chief, the mayor or the commissioners.

“If it starts with me, it can end with me,” Thomas said. “I can get it done.”

The code enforcement community forum will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.