The city of Powell held a public hearing Monday evening to discuss the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-11.
Despite a public notice printed in the June 10 edition of the Tribune and a subsequent front page story reminding readers of the hearing, not a single Powell resident attended to pose questions, to learn details or to express approval or disapproval of the proposed budget.
Given the flood of online comments and letters to the editor in response to nearly every Tribune story regarding city spending, the lack of attendance comes as a surprise.
The new aquatic center, Homesteader Park, Powellink, the pending landfill closure — all hot-button issues for online comments and all major factors in the city budget — along with the standard salary information, utility operations and the like elicited not a single comment from Powell residents.
It seems the passionate folks who weigh in anonymously via online comments — as well as those who put pen to paper and sign their names to letters to the editor — in this case failed to recognize the value of face-to-face dialogue, discussion and debate afforded by public hearings. Or maybe it's simply easier to hide behind a letter or the anonymity of online forums.
City Attorney Sandee Kitchen made three calls for speakers at Monday's meeting, but the silence was deafening.
City officials and councilmen frequently are criticized for failing to consider public input.
In this case — as is the case with every year's budget — the city specifically sought public input, and there was none.