With little money left for grants, and even less money for hand-holding, maybe it’s time to scratch the priority boards as we know them. Of course, sacred cows are the hardest to kill off, but it’s well past time to replace this antiquated mechanism for citizen feedback with something more efficient.
Closing six field offices and cutting the staff would cut costs- and an extra level of bureaucracy between the people and the powers that be.
Right now the seven priority boards divide the city:
Downtown – 101 W. Third Street, 6th Floor, City Hall, 937-333-2022
FROC – 903 W. Fairview Avenue, 937-333-2333
Innerwest – 1024 W. Third Street, 937-333-6538
Northeast – 359 Maryland Avenue, 937-333-2022
Northwest – 184 Salem Avenue, United Way Building, 937-333-5511
Southeast – 2160 E. Fifth Street, 937-333-7373
Southwest – 611 Leland Avenue, 937-333-8262
Besides requiring citizens to have to dedicate time to go to meetings- instead of actively working in their neighborhoods, the Priority Boards’ districts have never been particularly equitable- with some boards covering a much larger area and population than others. Not only that- when a group of citizens tried to redraw the borders to bring the historic districts together with Downtown in a central district, we were told that it couldn’t be done.
Instead of keeping this beloved dinosaur, we could recognize neighborhood association presidents as the de facto representatives of the people, and have quarterly meetings- directly with the City Manager, to work together to establish “priorities” for the city- and an equitable way to allocate the scarce resources.
Looking at “quality of life” issues and giving people unique reasons to live in the city- I believe that facilities like the Riverbend Arts Center are infinitely more valuable to the body public than a bunch of mid-level bureaucrats sitting over a kangaroo court of sorts.
I’m sure this observation will not be well received by the several hundred people who are serving or have served in the system and still believe it sound, but, in the time since the Priority Board system has existed, Dayton has lost more than 100,000 citizens. I’m not saying there is a correlation, but, I don’t see people moving into Dayton because we have a wonderful priority board system. But, great rec centers, or great art centers- that brings them in.