January 7, 2022
[UPDATE 1-10-2022: Dale Martin advised this morning that enrollment is closed for the upcoming sessions of the Citizens Academy. He received 20 responses almost immediately to his invitation to participate. He anticipates holding another session in the fall.]
Last month I indicated the re-start of a City Citizens Academy. The Citizens Academy, of which the previous effort was interrupted two years ago due to the pandemic, is an effort to introduce and inform area residents to how local government is organized and how it functions. The small class size (limited to twelve-fifteen participants) is intended to promote conversation among the participants and the City staff that presents information each week. After some final planning and review efforts have been completed, I can now offer more specifics for the next Citizens Academy series.
The Academy will be conducted on Thursday evenings, 5:30 PM, beginning on February 3 and conclude Apr 7. Due to a monthly “third-Thursday” regional government agency commitment, no sessions will be conducted on Feb 17 or Mar 17. The classes will be held at the City’s Airport terminal conference room, and last approximately ninety minutes each evening. Light snacks are typically provided.
The eight class sessions will cover a variety of topics associated with City of Fernandina Beach government. Session One (Feb 3) will be more informal, offering introductions among participants and providing a brief perspective of state government and a history of local government.
Session Two (Feb 10) will explore City organization and functions. The City Charter, the City’s principal organizational document, will be introduced and discussed.
As the municipal calendar approaches March, annual budget preparation efforts begin. To inform what those efforts entail, Sessions Three and Four are dedicated to City finances: Session Three (Feb 24) will discuss revenues, especially property taxes, and Session Four (Mar 3) will review expenditures.
Session Five (Mar 10) will have several Department Directors introduce themselves and share insight of their staff, duties, and responsibilities. Session Six (Mar 24) will focus on the City’s primary public safety components, the Police and Fire Departments.
Session Seven Mar 31) will introduce participants to the City’s management staff of the Airport, the Marina, and the Golf Course. The series will conclude with Session Eight (Apr 7), an introduction to and a tour of the City’s water and wastewater facilities.
The series is open to anyone interested in learning more about local government. The previous three sessions have been very interesting, I think not only for the participants but also the City staff who get to meet our residents in an informal setting, much different than the more typical engagement at official meetings or public hearings. Questions and conversations are strongly encouraged.
If you are interested in participating, please send to me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), including not only your name, address, and telephone number, but also a brief summary of why you are interested and what you hope to learn. I will considered messages of interest until Jan 27, at which time I will extend formal invitations for the series beginning the following week. Although I’ve been able to accommodate all previous interested residents, I do limit the class size as mentioned: it is imperative to foster a small group environment and discussion.
If you have any interest in government, please consider this program. It is intended to be light-hearted and informal but also enlightening for those unfamiliar with local government operations. So much of local government is predicated upon building personal relationships, and I hope that some of you will be open to new relationships and information about your City.
I also encourage the participants of the 2020 interrupted series to let me know if they want to return to complete the series. I don’t want those people to have missed the conclusion of their earlier efforts.
Thank you in advance for your interest. I look forward to sharing an exciting 2022 with all of you.