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Jefferson City says it is working to improve city transparency


Jefferson City is working to improve transparency for its residents, according to information on the city government website.

These efforts include hiring a public information coordinator, prioritizing public comments at city council meetings, a new public records management portal and budgeting software and police body cameras, the release says.

Public Information Coordinator

According to the city's website, the new public information coordinator, Molly Bryan, will manage the city's website and social media platforms, allowing people to receive information about meetings, projects and events in real-time instead of waiting for formal announcements.

Bryan started in her role five weeks ago and said there has been an upward trend recently of people talking about transparency with the city. She said since she began posting updates online and to social media, there has been a 340% increase in engagement.

"That means we have information that needs to be put out," Bryan said. "People want to stay updated."

Prioritized public comments

At council meetings, all public comments will now be at the beginning of each session. Residents will have four minutes to speak their piece and are not required to sign up beforehand.

Previously, Bryan said there had been two areas on meeting agendas dedicated to public comment, both of which required a sign up prior to the meeting.

"I want that collective growth and collaboration with the City and with our community members, and so I want as many people to come and feel comfortable here talking at those meetings," Bryan said.

Police body cameras

In 2023, an agreement was made to lease body cameras for the police department. Lt. David Williams said the cameras went into use in September, and since then, the department has recorded more than 34,000 videos.

He said the transition to cameras is going well, with lots of training being done in August. He said officers can manually turn the cameras on and off, but they also sync to the department's vehicles to automatically turn on when an officer turns on a vehicle's lights.

Williams said officers can make footage available almost immediately, and said the court system has been happy to now have the ability to get that information quickly. He also said the department has received positive feedback from citizens.

"They know that's there and they appreciate the fact that we've gone that extra step to make sure that it's there if we need it," Williams said.

The plan will cost around $420,000 for a 3-year agreement to lease the cameras.

Public records portal

The City also has a public records management portal, NextRequest, to make records requests easier. Bryan said it has already had almost 150 requests.

The system was purchased in July and launched in December, and Bryan said the city paid $6,990 for the software.

Previously, the city clerk had handled all records requests through manual entry.

"It's helped her streamline that process of getting those back to people in accurate and timely manners, and then also keeping that trail for the public to know where those requests are," Bryan said.

Budgeting software

The City Council has also approved a contract with budgeting software OpenGov to allow residents timely and user-friendly information into the City's financial data.

"The community can actually take a look at our financial health and the budgetary process, as well as an internal-facing dashboard that will help council members, the budget committee and department heads finagle their budgets as well," Bryan said.

Bryan said this program was approved at a meeting earlier this month and will cost $71,432 in its first year, which includes the set up and cost. She said the City hopes to have it running this year.

Website updates

City staff are also working with a website company to make the city's site more user-friendly.

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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