An inaugural citizens academy is coming to Neosho in 2019 to gain more input from residents.

A new opportunity for Neosho residents to learn more about how the City of Neosho operates is planned for early 2019, according to city manager Leland Butcher. The city plans to hold a citizen academy, with sessions once a week for eight weeks.

"The citizens don't have a clear understanding of what each section of city government does. We'll invite people to come to a citizen academy. What we're trying to do is to let citizens come in and sew what we do, ask questions, and get a better understanding of what we do."

Butcher came up with the idea of a citizen academy to bridge the information gap. The city will host the inaugural citizen academy will launch sometime in early 2019 with eight sessions.

Sessions will include City Hall and Civics 101, Budgeting/Taxes, Development Services, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Fire Department, Police Department, and a graduation at the final session.

"Our goal is to better inform our citizens in what it takes to provide services to our community and hope, by informing our citizens, they will become involved in the community through boards, councils and city activities."

Each academy will be limited to twenty participants. Applicants must reside within the city limits of Neosho and be at least 18 years of age. The applications will be available in the near future.

Butcher plans for each session to take place at the department being explained. Staff will provide a tour and an overview of each department, which will include an explanation of how each functions.. A question and answer session will be part of each event. Each academy is expected to last approximately 2 hours.

In addition to the citizen academy, Butcher expects to hold other public forums, tied into the city's strategic planning next year.

"Each department will hold a public session. The public can provide input, what we're doing well, what we're not doing well, and where we need to be. We want to know what the citizens want their city to do. We're going to try to have at least one elected official at each, if possible, but it's not a guarantee."

At these meetings, citizens will be asked to share ideas on where the city needs to be and how to get there.

Like the citizen academy, the open meetings are planned for early next year. When held, Butcher envisions two session for each department, one held in the afternoon and another in the evening to permit residents to find one that works with their schedule.

"I think the citizens need to have input," Butcher said. "We've got to know when we fail so we can fix it."

Additional details about applications and timing will be shared with the public once finalized.

Butcher wants open communication, a vital key to making the city work.

"I'm open and honest with the press and the public."

After the inaugural citizen academy is held, more may follow depending on public interest and participation in addition to the departmental strategic planning sessions.

"Our citizens are stake holders in the city, in our future, and we want their input. It's the only way to get the citizens to move forward - you have to get citizens involved."