The City of Tacoma believes in conducting its work with transparency and an emphasis on government accountability to the community it serves.
The City’s Customer Support Center – a “one-stop shop” for City services offering a concierge feel in the way of reception, face-to-face interaction, 311 telephone support and online resources – has served thousands of residents to date. Its latest offering, mobile app connectivity, gives community members the ability to make and track non-emergent service requests, and find answers to frequently asked questions. The updated brand – TacomaFIRST 311 – reflects the commitment made by the City through its Public Access, Service and Security initiative to providing residents and visitors with a level of access to services designed with an enhanced customer experience in mind.
In an effort to provide residents with the most appropriate resources for their situation, high utilizers of the 911 system were referred to the Tacoma Fire Department’s FDCARES program. As a result, non-emergency responses to identified high-utilizers were reduced by 62.9 percent in 2014.
Tacoma Fire Department personnel conducted joint training on fire suppression tactics for special hazards incidents in the Tideflats area. Training objectives included familiarizing firefighters to the physical layout of facilities, identifying the unique hazards associated with operations, and coordinating how employees will respond in emergency incidents.
Tacoma homes made the big change to every-other-week curbside collection in 2014, and the more than 54,000 customers have made the program a success. Customers have been able to reduce their garbage container volume by approximately 12 percent per household, which is a savings of an average of more than 9 percent per month on customers’ utility bills. The implementation has also helped make the utility more sustainable, both financially and environmentally.
The City of Tacoma received a Gold in Excellence Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for its Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. This award recognizes 100 percent compliance with permits for the past calendar year, and is presented to facilities with no permit violations in 2014. In addition, for 16 years running, the North End Wastewater Treatment Plant received NACWA’s Platinum in Excellence Award. This award recognizes 100 percent compliance with permits over a consecutive five-year period.
The City of Tacoma also passed an Environmental Protection Agency wastewater collection system audit for its two wastewater treatment plants and collection systems. The audit was conducted to ensure that the City is in compliance with their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and that the sanitary sewer system is properly maintained and operated. City staff received exceptional praise from the EPA for environmental compliance.
For its efforts to reduce electrical consumption, the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant was nominated by the Washington State University Extension Energy Program for the Governor’s Award for Leadership in Energy Performance.
For the past year, the City of Tacoma has been developing an Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) for the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. Completion will lead to certification by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) under Standard 14001. ISO certification is, in essence, the “Good Housekeeping Seal” for environmental stewardship. The City received the highest obtainable rating at the first audit required for certification under ISO 14001.Two additional audits, scheduled in March and June of 2015, are required before the plant can be certified.
Environmental Services and Tacoma Public Utilities environmental compliance staff provided illicit discharge awareness training to more than 800 City of Tacoma employees enabling them to identify and report suspected pollutants seen entering City storm drains as they drive about Tacoma in the course of their daily jobs. In addition, employees were trained in the use of best management practices to prevent stormwater pollution from activities at their work sites.
Mobile inspection devices were implemented by the City of Tacoma to enhance inspection tasks and provide Environmental Services field staff with better access to permitting and site research resources. With these tools, field staff have immediate access to all information, including inspection results, the ability to immediately record notes, and allow two-way interaction in the field.
With the launch of TacomaPermits.Org, online customer self-service options were expanded to include electronic plan submittals, tip sheets, and online inspection request scheduling. An estimated 10,000 visitors accessed the TacomaPermits.org "Apply for Permits” page. In addition, 10,120 inspection requests were made in 2014 using the TacomaPermits.org online form.
The City of Tacoma revamped its recruitment and appointment processes for committees, boards and commissions, and launched a branded online recruitment toolkit and supplemental series of testimonial videos for use and distribution throughout the community by Tacoma’s leaders and top social influencers.
The City also implemented an automated agenda process for all City Council standing committees.
Public input was pivotal to the Tacoma 2025 strategic planning process, and community members were deeply involved in envisioning how Tacoma could grow and thrive over the next decade. Information gathered throughout the Tacoma 2025 strategic planning process has resulted in a citywide strategic plan which outlines steps needed to achieve a shared community vision for Tacoma’s future. The plan will also help inform decision making regarding the City of Tacoma’s resource allocations, to ensure that funding is available to actualize community priorities identified in the plan.
With a continued focus on raising the bar for both efficiency and performance, the City of Tacoma replaced and upgraded equipment, installed new services, and converged voice and data services over a single transport at nine Tacoma Fire Department stations.
The City of Tacoma received a Digital Cities Survey Award for enhancing citizen access to information and services through the use of technology. The Digital Cities Survey, conducted biennially in even years, is a comprehensive study that examines best practices, policies and progress made by governments in their use of digital technologies to better serve their citizens and streamline operations.
As part of efforts to improve access to information and government transparency, the City of Tacoma launched an open data platform called TacomaData. Powered by Socrata, TacomaData is a cloud based tool that stores City data such as crime statistics, public works infrastructure projects and major employers.
Two new programs launched on TV Tacoma: Tacoma Report and Urban Green. Modeled after mainstream broadcast news, Tacoma Report is a bi-monthly news program that highlights City services, programs and events. This program was launched in an effort to showcase positive news about the City of Tacoma and the community it serves. Urban Green, a lifestyle program, explores sustainable living and environmental issues through segments featuring regional and national experts, EnviroChallenger tips, food/cooking and opportunities to get involved in community efforts.
The City of Tacoma launched its first microsite educating and informing the community about the budget process. Providing a transparent, interactive look at the City’s 2015-2016 Biennial Budget development process, the budget microsite included a kinetic typography video and a budget simulation tool that gave visitors an opportunity to conjure up and submit different budget scenarios.
To ensure broadest reach of our Mayor’s remarks during her first dedicated annual State of the City address, the City of Tacoma incorporated a live Twitter feed that gave event attendees and those in the broader community who were unable to attend the ability to comment and respond to questions that our Mayor posed. Our Mayor’s State of the City address was the top trending topic on Twitter in the area while it was happening and provided the community with a high level look at Tacoma today.