Beginning next month, residents will get a firsthand look at how the local government works, including an inside guide to each department.
“We’ve been working on organizing the academy for the past two and a half months, and we’re currently putting on the final touches,” said Assistant to the City Manager Tom Quist. “To my knowledge, this is the first citizen’s academy of this type that the city has ever held. Our police and fire departments do offer separate citizen’s academies that are more focused on their areas of expertise.”
The academy will begin Tuesday, Feb. 5, and run for eight weeks, ending on March 26. The classes will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., with most classes meeting at city hall.
Created at the directive of the city council, citizens can expect to learn about all of the functions of city government.
“Each department has prepared a program that covers their services and responsibilities. The departments include administration, finance, police, fire, parks and recreation, planning and development, public works, electric, gas, water and sewer, FiberCom, stormwater, solid waste, Downtown Development [Authority] and [Cartersville-Bartow County Department of] Economic Development,” Quist said. “We will also be addressing the roles and responsibilities of elected officials. While we do plan to present lots of information, we also intend to share stories, offer tours of a couple facilities and have lots of opportunities for interaction.”
Mayor Matt Santini said while his role will be limited, he looks forward to taking part in the course and reaching out to residents.
“I think there is a great benefit to the community,” he said. “Certainly, local government is always reaching out, trying to get people involved and educated as to what exactly the local government does. This is just an opportunity for citizens who may be living here for a long time or even new to the community to get an opportunity to get a look from the inside at the things the local government does.”
Quist said the goal of the academy is to inspire participants and build a better community.
“It goes without saying that our communities are stronger when our citizens are engaged and informed. We hope that the academy promotes those causes while furthering our government’s objectives of being transparent and inclusive,” he said. “Perhaps some of the attendees will be inspired to serve the community in some new way. We really want to make this a memorable experience, and we want to demonstrate the passion that our officials and staff have for the work that they do in service to the community.”
There is no fee to enroll but space is limited. Applicants must be residents of the city and have completed an application, which can be found online at www.cityofcartersville.org. Enrollment will be capped at 25 citizens. Quist said if more than 25 applications are received, a panel will select citizens based on the answers in their application. Those not selected will be placed on a waiting list for future iterations of the academy.