Boris Tsang / Sun File Photograph

Tompkins County plans to involve its residents more in local government decisions with community feedback forums.

August 30, 2023

Tompkins County Forums Will Provide Ithacans Space to Share Opinions

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As part of its Strategic Operations Plan, Tompkins County is hosting community forums from Sept. 12 to Sept. 14 in different locations to discuss the county’s plans for the future. 

The initiative follows a July announcement that debuted the Strategic Operations Planning Process. The plan aims to involve community members in the county’s decision making processes. 

Tompkins County also launched a new website where residents can submit their feedback on county services, providing insight to county officials regarding allocating of county resources and achieving progress on county issues.

“Bringing more voices into local government is critical,” wrote Dominick Recckio, Tompkins County office communication director, in a statement to The Sun. “Ultimately the County’s policies and programs are in support of the public and the community, so knowing the impact we are having and could have helps us to improve and set priorities.”

Residents can also submit suggestions on a section of the website, which other members of the community can read and upvote as a show of support. These suggestions could potentially influence the allocation of the county’s budget of over $200 million. 

In a press release shared with The Sun on Wednesday, the county’s office discussed the schedule for the forums as the second part of the plan, meant to engage the public about the progress so far.

The forums will take place in multiple locations across the county — including the Human Services Annex, 214 West Martin Luther King Jr/ State St. Ithaca on September 12; the Enfield Community Center 162 Enfield Main Rd, Ithaca on September 13; and the Southworth Library

24 W Main St, Dryden. 

“These types of in-depth plans don’t come around very often, so sharing your perspective and ideas now will have an impact for many years. The County needs to hear from people who are impacted by our services and policies — that’s the only way we can improve,” wrote County Legislator Travis Brooks in the press release. “I’m proud that we’re giving so many opportunities for community input because it gives us a chance to consider other perspectives and hear directly from the people that we serve.”

The plan’s consultant, BerryDunn, will lead an exercise to talk about the current state of the County and services currently offered, followed by breakout and visioning sessions with attendees. 

Though past plans have included community input and engagement, this is Tompkins County’s first Strategic Operations Plan.

“This plan focuses on how our operations can best meet goals shared by the organization and community – having forums and gathering input helps to set those goals and give feedback on the County’s operations,” Recckio said.

The County’s office is expecting high-turnout from the event and expressed their excitement from the interest Ithaca residents took on providing the virtual feedback over the summer.

“I’m really proud of how engaged our community has been so far throughout this process. We’ve received hundreds of ideas and survey responses, many of which are really insightful,” said Shawna Black, chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature, in the press release. “I’m already starting to see where we can roll up our sleeves and work on our operations, and I’m eager to hear more from these upcoming forums. Thank you to everyone who participates in this process.”