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How cities build community

The City of Citrus Heights does a terrific job of connecting with the public. For example, the city will be holding another of its "Public Works Showcase" events on Thursday, May 16th at Van Maren Park, at Fountain Square Dr. and Stock Ranch Rd. from 3 to 6 p.m.

The Public Works Showcase is a free event where people can enjoy the experience of big trucks, heavy equipment, and job information about careers in public works and related trades. Students can explore trade schools, kids can experience machines like garbage trucks, street sweepers, and a sewer truck where they can operate the camera. Jobseekers can learn about office and field careers, ranging in skillsets from administrative, engineering, operating big equipment and maintenance. For more information, see the event flyer below.

This is a solid way for the city to demonstrate to taxpayers some vital aspects of its municipal service delivery, while also providing a fun time for families and children. Sacramento County could do something similar with its public works programs, though that's not likely to happen. Why? With 85,000 people, Citrus Heights can be effective with this kind of promotion once a year. But the county, having over 600,000 people in the unincorporated UnCity alone, would have to hold similar events of this scale every 2 months or so and, to be effective, would have spread them around a large geographic area. Worse, since the county provides some public works services across the entire county, events like this would have to be held roughly every 2-3 weeks in various places around the county. Obviously, it's not practical to devote staff and equipment to a more or less constant PR campaign. As a result, the public doesn't fully understand what its municipal government really does, as is necessary to appreciate its value.

An event like Citrus Height's Public Works Showcase helps the public understand how municipal tax dollars are used.  Some units of municipal  government are just too big (in our county, they are called Sacramento County and the City of Sacramento) to provide outreach the way Citrus Heights does. In those oversized governments, there is a risk that the public will not understand the connection between municipal taxes and outcomes; there can be distrust. The only alternative for the County is to partner with a city like Citrus Heights. That's something the countywide Sewer District, to its credit, has done. Still, by partnering with Citrus Heights, the county Sewer District is really only reaching the people of Citrus Heights. Arden Arcade is about the same size as Citrus Heights. If Arden Arcade was a city, with or without a nearby community or two, it would be able to do an annual event like Citrus Heights does. Draw your own conclusions.

Flyer for the 3rd Annual Citrus Heights Public Works Showcase with career fair and family activities on May 16.
The Citrus Heights Public Works Showcase is free to the public


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