Staff has recently finalized a contract with software company, Accela. Once finalized, Accela will function as the City’s new Customer Relations Management (CRM) software system. The upgraded CRM will include a smart phone app that residents, Councilmembers, staff, and others will be able to access in order to report code violations, concerns, and complaints.
With the Gazette was shutting down, I came across a lively discussion on our list-serve about having a City -wide newsletter. The City Council discussed the topic last year as part of the overall discussion on City’s communication strategy. I pulled some data staff presented at time and thought will be helpful in guiding our current discussion the newsletter.
The City currently pays approximately $35,000 annually ($1,500 per issue) to the Gazette for layout, design and printing of the Municipal Scene, which is published on the second and final week of the month as a full-page color insert. The City Clerk’s office submits copy to the Gazette four days prior to publication which allows us to include timely information. The agreement with the Gazette includes space for the weekly City calendar.
The Gazette is delivered to all single-family residences in the City (and beyond, to the entire northern P.G. County) and copies are also placed at various locations. The Municipal Scene content includes summaries of Council actions, City events, program announcements and hearing notices.
Please see below a chart summarizing how the newsletters are produced and delivered in our neighboring cities.
All of our neighboring municipalities produce city newsletters. Laurel and Bowie provide them electronically and hard copies at certain locations, although Bowie is now considering mailing its newsletters to residents. The other municipalities mail their newsletters. Two of the cities provide the newsletters every month, while the other cities send them every other month or quarterly. Two of the newsletters are four pages, and the rest are between 10 and 24 pages.
Greenbelt and Hyattsville pay for space in a local newspaper to provide City-created news information in that paper. Each also mails a newsletter to residents (quarterly for Greenbelt, and monthly for Hyattsville). Bowie produces a 16-page newsletter (Bowie Spotlight) six times a year; a 12-page seniors newsletter every month; and a Recreation newsletter every month. Takoma Park mails a 12-page monthly newsletter to all residents (single-family and multifamily). It is edited by an outside contractor, and the total cost is about $75,000. Laurel produces two 10-page quarterly newsletters and a Parks and Recreation newsletter twice a year. Only the Parks and Recreation newsletter is mailed.
College Park has about 5000 single family houses. New Carrollton currently spends $35,000 / year (same as College Park’s annual budget with the Gazette) to print and deliver to 5000 houses and businesses. Thus if we decide to print and deliver to all of City’s single facility houses, cost will be comparable to what we’re currently spending on the Gazette. If some residents / businesses opt not to have the print copy (as it will be emailed also), the newsletter budget should even go down.