Cities grapple with the pace of change and resident demands.  Municipalities have long received criticisms for being inefficient or ineffectual in what it is they’re trying to accomplish.  Those criticisms aren’t always fair, but they linger.

However, technology is starting to bridge the gab between the complaints and the reality.  For governments that are plugged into emerging trends, the future (and present) are increasingly the norm.

In the following article, we’ll cover each of the six most common complaints about city government currently in circulation. We’ll also discuss what can be, and more importantly what IS being, done about them.

1. Not Enough Housing

One of the biggest drivers of homelessness in the United States is a lack of affordable housing.  The increasing income inequality gap means private industries are investing more in homes geared towards upper-income residents.

That shifts the burden of affordable housing to municipalities, which are often ill-equipped to address the issue.  beyond the issue of affordability, these municipalities also have the burden of producing safe locations for their residents to call home.  That requires extra attention and resources.

Addressing the housing dilemma requires careful planning and execution, but it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page, especially when you don’t have the technological tools in place.  Which brings us to…

2. Technology and Data Is Behind the Times

For many municipalities,  systems between departments do not integrate, thus creating a “right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” type of situation.

And anemic IT departments can create training issues for those cities that do have systems in place.  this creates another dilemma where cities fail to maximize the efficiency of the technology infrastructure that’s in place.

Providing access to programs that communicate across devices and operating systems is essential for managing the data and info necessary for making quality decisions and building the infrastructure that offers a better way of life.

3.  Crumbling Infrastructure

Many times cities can be hamstrung by the inaction or poor decision-making of prior leadership.  They also can face overwhelming odds due to loss of industry or natural disasters that leave their physical infrastructure crumbling or in need of repair.

To be clear, you cannot control all of the situations your municipality will experience through leadership alone. Tornadoes and other natural disasters happen.  factories get outsourced, leaving you with large, uncared-for buildings that are hard to fill.

How municipalities respond to these situations is vital.  And without getting all players on the same page fiscally, logistically, and operationally, these situations easily can go from bad to worse.

4.  Irresponsible Budgeting

For large municipalities, in particular, it can be difficult keeping budgets on track. Think about a city of 100,000 with approximately 25 departments, including police, fire, streets, utilities, water/sanitation, parks and finance.

The financial capabilities of these departments often are dictated by the personnel they have in place, federal funding for which they may be eligible, the priorities of their elected leaders, and the robustness (or lack thereof) of city revenues.

After each department submits its budget drafts, that information has to be reconciled on the whole and approved by leadership.  In other words, one budget brings with it many stakeholders.  Establish a tracking system that ensures all departments are on the same page, and it becomes easier to keep your priorities and goals in sight.

5.  Public Safety Concerns

One of the most important functions of the municipality is keeping the public safe. They do this through a variety of methods.

  • Fire emergency response
  • Police calls for service
  • Building permitting and inspections
  • Water treatment and transmission
  • Sanitary sewer and trash collection

It takes a lot of skill to keep these plates spinning. Without a proper tracking and response system in place, it’s easy to experience issues.

6. Poor Economic Development

Cities that struggle with poor planning, financial irresponsibility, technological shortfalls, and public safety concerns have difficulty sustaining their growth. That’s because they cannot attract new or robust industries to boost the tax base.

That makes it very hard to compete on economic development against other cities and regions that have a handle on things. Tracking projects across platforms enables everyone to have a share in the present and future successes of the region, and it can stimulate gains in economic development.  

How to Address Complaints About City Government

The best way for cities to stay ahead of complaints is to invest in technologies that simplify and integrate across platforms. We built e-PlanREVIEW® on this premise, and it has helped address a number of budgeting, infrastructure, and resource-planning needs that are common for municipalities. Contact us today to request a demonstration for your agency.