Make your voice heard on community needs

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Engaged citizens improve government, and nowhere is that more true than at the local level.

Here in the Town of Bluffton, elected officials and staff members actively seek input from residents and other stakeholders regarding our programs and projects. We use a wide range of tools to solicit this feedback such as community outreach, face-to-face meetings, public hearings, public comments at Town Council and other town-sponsored meetings, and via our website and social media links.

Throughout the year, citizens provide information to Town Council and staff regarding community needs for the town. Based upon this input from residents, and following a community needs assessment and prioritization public hearing at the February council meeting, Town Council identified four community needs as priorities for the upcoming year.

They are: Transportation and Pedestrian Safety; Infrastructure Improvements including Sewer, Water, and Drainage; Residential Rehabilitation of Housing for Safe and Dry Housing; Restoration of Properties or Facilities of Special Value to the Community; and Affordable Housing for Low to Moderate Income (LMI) Individuals, Families and Seniors.

Establishing these priorities makes a number of town projects and programs eligible for grant funding, so this annual process is important.

Prior to the community needs assessment and prioritization, the public also provided Council with input to specific projects and programs during the recent Strategic Planning Workshop in early February.

A number of these ideas, as well as staff proposed projects, were presented on March 22 to the Planning Commission.

During this meeting, the Commission makes a recommendation to Council on how to prioritize the five-year Capital Improvements Program project list. Based upon this input, Council will adopt a Capital Improvements Program project work plan and budget for the next fiscal year and beyond.

The Capital Improvements Program is where past and current projects such as the May River Road Streetscape, Oyster Factory Park, Garvin House renovation and sanitary sewer projects are developed and implemented.

An engaged public assists us as your Council in determining what needs, whether they be programs, policies or projects, our citizens feel are most pressing. Be sure to make your voice heard along the way whether by attending a meeting, workshop, public hearing or reaching out to Council or staff.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.

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