County’s call-in show draws a crowd

Where in Mesa County could more than 900 people assemble to talk about their local government?

Turns out the answer is as close as your telephone.

Saturday, the county’s telephone town hall meeting drew a constant crowd of more than 900 people. That is slightly down from the last county call-in meeting in February.

“We had 1,000 something last time as our peak, but the total attendees was a much larger number this time,” said Jessica Peterson, county spokeswoman.

More than 8,000 participated for some portion of the call, compared with about 7,000 last February when the previous county call-in meeting was held.

“It is a lot more people than we could have communicated with in a normal meeting,” Peterson said.

The meeting was billed as a way for the commission to hear directly from the public about the 2010 budget. Some expenditures may face the chopping block in the fall when budget discussions start in earnest.

Commissioner Janet Rowland, who hosted the meeting, said she benefited from the communication. She said she heard from people from all corners of the county. In the past the county’s most-used mass communication tools were citizen attitude surveys. Those surveys reached about 400 people, and were done once every year or two.

There also were several poll questions asked of callers as they either listened in to the conversation or asked questions of their own. Callers also were able to leave messages with their questions. Those recorded questions are being answered by county staff as time permits.

Craig Meis said those messages and poll results provided him the greatest insight. But from what he could ascertain from the day of the phone forum, residents want the county budget to focus on roads, bridges, sidewalks and other public structures.

“The underlying statement I heard from a lot of people was infrastructure,” Meis said.


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