- Success Story
- NRH, Texas
How North Richland Hills Makes Citizens Number One
“We’ve had an increase in people feeling like they can reach out, [...] Citizens don’t have to come to City Hall to have their voice heard or to bring forward a concern.”
Alicia Richardson, City Secretary, City of North Richland Hills, Texas
- 12,0000 Sheets of Paper Paper savings of about 12,000 sheets of paper per month
- 18 Trees Saving 18 trees per year just by not printing agendas
- 1 day per meeting Save one full day per meeting in preparation and assembly time
What does it actually look like when local governments place a high priority on the happiness of their citizens? If you visit the City of North Richland Hills, Texas, you’ll find out. From the beautiful City Council chambers constructed in 2015 to the technologically advanced agenda management system, North Richland Hills’ City Hall looks – and feels – like an oasis of transparency and citizen engagement.
Before implementing Granicus’ Meeting and Agenda Suite, the City, like many of its counterparts across the country, did many processes manually. Copies of agenda items (including legislation and all related documents) would be placed on a long table in the order in which they were meant to go, then several staff members aided in the agenda assembly.
“We would sort of make a conga line to put the agenda together,” says City Secretary Alicia Richardson.
North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino is quick to point out that when government staffers spend less time on various manual processes, it becomes easier to interact with citizens in different ways and focus on community improvement. Because of this, Trevino has placed a high priority on implementing technology during his 15 years serving as Mayor.
In 2015, as the City was gearing up to move to a new building, it decided to invest in some new hardware for its meeting space. Staff purchased new televisions for the council chambers, video equipment for streaming and recording, and iPads for council members to receive and review agendas.
With all this new hardware, the City also decided the time was right to invest in new software. After an in-depth interdepartmental review process, staff chose to replace their previous legislative software with Granicus’ Meeting and Agenda solutions. With the change, every council member now receives their agenda on their iPad, and votes, speakers, and more are displayed on monitors in the Council Chamber.
But everyone at North Richland Hills, including staff and elected officials, recognizes the importance of being efficient and avoiding bottlenecks. Previously, in some cases, this was difficult to achieve because of collaborative efforts between departments that would cause things to get lost in transit. But since the City was able to switch to a new system with Granicus, they’ve freed up time that was previously spent either navigating clunky workarounds with the old system, or time that was spent manually assembling or delivering agendas.
Accessibility is also important when it comes to in-meeting processes, including voting.
Now City staff members, as well as the Mayor himself, are all more accessible.
“Because they’re more engaged, I can respond to citizens faster,” Trevino says. “You have to make that first contact with them when they’re still upset or when they’re happy about what they’re seeing.” Since the City decided to make these changes, and staff have been able to manage their processes more easily, and they’ve seen an increase in citizen participation when it comes to meetings.
This encouragement has worked. “We’ve had an increase in people feeling like they can reach out,” Richardson says. “Citizens don’t have to come to City Hall to have their voice heard or to bring forward a concern.”