New city hall specialist to address ‘communications deficit’

A communications specialist will be hired to help the district get its message out and connect with the public.

A communications specialist will be hired to help the district get its message out and connect with the public.

The new person will develop and implement a strategy and oversee all communications.

About $35,000 has been budgeted this year for the position, but it would cost $88,000 to support it on a regular basis. Staff are recommending the full-time position be considered during the next budget cycle.

According to the district, there are currently 10 departments that regularly provide the public with information and since this new position would benefit every one, each department will contribute financially to it.

Council voted 6-1 to proceed with the position. Coun. Jenny Stevens was the lone voice opposed.

Over the past year there have been major issues dominating the field and taking a lot of staff and council time, said Stevens, who believes council is overreacting to a “temporary glitch.”

“We haven’t had this problem before,” added Stevens, refusing to support the hire, because of the close timing to the next civic election.

The problem, said Mayor James Atebe, is the district has been reactive instead of proactive.

Council is hiring a communications specialist because the situation demands it, not because it’s an election year, Atebe added.

Too many people put money into the community, but don’t know what’s going on, said Coun. Paul Horn, suggesting staff find ways to measure the outcome of this new method.

“We put money in programs, but people don’t know about it.”

Horn noted there was a communication deficit before he was elected to council six years ago, and he’s even more aware of it now.

The Mission Chamber of Commerce encouraged the district to develop a communications strategy, as chamber staff are often hearing negative remarks from locals and visitors. Local businesses also receive such feedback, and outside the municipality, chamber directors are also fielding similar comments about Mission.

Negative perception hurts business, and it’s important positive messages are informative and highlight what makes Mission a great place to live work and play, said the chamber.