AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Fewer and fewer Amarillo residents are getting involved in local government, and lack of time is a big reason why.
Vacancies on about a dozen City of Amarillo boards and commissions are slowing down the city improvement projects that these groups are tasked with overseeing.
Now the city council is working to fill these spots while also trying to diversify the committees.
Between expiring term limits, resignations and failure to fill spots that have remained empty for a while, there are over 20 vacancies for citizens to serve on committees that help the city council.
These committees are:
- Amarillo Economic Development Corporation
- Amarillo Hospital District
- Amarillo MPO Policy Committee
- Amarillo-Potter Events Venue District
- Animal Management & Welfare
- Board of Review - Landmarks & Historic District
- Community Development Advisory Committee
- Construction Advisory & Appeals Board
- Emergency Care Advisory Board
- Library Advisory Board
- Quail Creek Public Improvement District Advisory Board
- 21st Century Senior Services Development Advisory Board
"It's tricky because you need to get people engaged, but they have to make sure they show up, and it's a serious deal," said council member Mark Nair. "When people realize it's a serious deal and they have to be engaged they say 'I don't want to do that.'"
If enough voting members for any given committee are not at a meeting, then no action can be taken.
This happened earlier this week with the Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Committee.
Nair said inconvenient meeting times add to this problem - some at times like 1 p.m. when people are working.
"Who can do it? Except certain groups of people: people who own their own place, people who are retired, people who have enough money that they don't have to worry about it, and that's not really the kind of people we need," said Nair. "We need people who are diverse throughout the whole community."
The lack of diversity is an issue Nair and the council have been trying to fix, but they don't have a solution.
"If you look at the majority of people, they're really clumped from one area, which is south of I-40 and west," said Nair. "We've been trying to get the message out to people, and saying you can have your voice heard, but the majority of people who apply live in that area."
If you want to serve on one of these committees, regardless of which side of town you live on, Nair encourages people to head to the city's website and fill out an application.
He and council member Randy Burkett will begin looking at applications and making selections next week.