INDEPENDENCE — During his report to the council at the July 23 meeting, Independence City Manager Tom Pessemier noted some response to the city’s efforts to engage community members.

He gave credit to Councilor Shannon Corr for urging the effort and coming up with some ideas to increase community participation in council meetings.

During councilor comments at the June 11 meeting, Corr said she had done “some cursory surveying about interest in ... having the city council meetings more open to working families.”

She said she wanted staff to take a look at coming up with a solution “that would meet the needs of the community and get more working folks (at council meetings), or more parents with small children here to represent their views.”

What sparked the conversation between Corr and some community members is an article she shared online: “Offering Childcare at City Meetings May Be Key to Diversifying Civic Engagement,” from a nonprofit called Next City.

Corr said she and Councilor Jennifer Ranstrom-Smith met with the mayor and Pessemier. “Where we agreed to start is to have staff post the agenda on Facebook and Next Door on the Monday before the council meeting asking followers to provide feedback/pose questions,” Corr said.

Pessemier at the July 23 meeting told council about some of their efforts.

The city plans to keep track of the questions and answer some during meetings and some in other ways, he said.

“One of the questions we had from a couple of weeks ago was relative to hard water and deposits that hard water can leave on cars or vehicles or faucets or whatever,” Pessemier said.

The question is common, he said, and he explained that hard water is caused by minerals and soils that dissolve into ground water.

“In Independence, we take that ground water that’s pumped from a well into the municipal water system,” Pessemier said.

“This can be a nuisance for homeowners and businesses but it’s not a health risk,” he said. “When you wash your car, you’ll see a little bit of deposits on your car, and you’ll also see it in your sink and other places.”

Pessemier said one of the great things about Independence is people come up with solutions.

He said someone responded to the post with tips on car washing that help avoid water spots.

In this case, the question is what level of service does the city want to provide, Pessemier said.

The water system meets quality standards, but softening the water would require additional resources.

“Certainly all these things are doable,” Pessemier said, but city staff needs to keep an eye on fees being charged to residents.

Corr asked if someone was responding to these questions online or if people would be referred to the video of the meetings where the questions were addressed.

“A little bit of both,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure out how we want to do all this.”

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