“People entering college or students moving back home after college want to be more active in their community. They see that the City is adopting technology that they are used to, so it attracts them more."
With a population of over 110,000, the City of Clearwater is the county seat of Pinellas County, Florida.
Clearwater has over ten different advisory boards that serve the city. The purpose of an advisory board, which in some cities is known as a commission, is to advise the city council on various issues that affect the community. The board members provide community input and make sure that the city adheres to established guidelines. Advisory boards range in size but average between five and ten members. Each board has a different set of criteria that must be met by its members. In Clearwater, advisory board members serve four-year terms and can be re-appointed for a second term.
In the past, the advisory board application process was entirely paper-based. As a result, the city was often faced with not enough candidates for vacant spots on an advisory board. The city used Laserfiche Forms to create an electronic application which has led to a larger and more diverse pool of candidates for advisory boards.
“In the old way, we wouldn’t be able to fill the vacancies sometimes. The process has improved in that we have a better, up to date pool of applicants for the boards,” said Rosemarie Call, City Clerk. The electronic application form helps the city reach out to a younger demographic — a segment of the population that has previously not been engaged. A larger number of young people on the advisory boards equates to a different outlook on many issues and a better overall representation of the community.
“I’m seeing more people entering college or students moving back home after college who want to be more active in their community. They see that the city is adopting technology that they are used to, so it attracts them more,” said Call.
An Electronic Form Makes Advisory Boards More Accessible
The advisory board application form is now found on the city’s website. The candidate can select one or more advisory boards from a drop-down list. Depending on what option is selected, different items are required. For example, if a quasi-judicial board is selected, the candidate must upload proof of voter registration. All candidates must upload a proof of residency.
Applicants can apply for more than one advisory board through the electronic application form.
In order to simplify filling it, the form has been divided into pages. Each page contains a different set of questions. The electronic application form has been divided into different pages to make filling it out easier. Once the application form is submitted, Laserfiche Forms send an email notification to the city clerk. The clerk reviews the candidate’s information to make sure that it aligns with the criteria for the requested board.
If approved, the application is stored in a folder in the repository. Once a month, all applicants are added to the city council meeting agenda. All board members are appointed by the city council during a meeting.
If rejected, an email is sent out to the applicant with the reason for the rejection.
Once the item is added to the agenda, and the advisory board members have been appointed, the documents are moved to a different folder in Laserfiche for archival.
An Electronic Application Form Attracts More Applicants
By automating the advisory board application process with Laserfiche Forms, the city of Clearwater has increased the size of the advisory board candidate pool. The larger pool of candidates means that there are more diverse and qualified candidates to choose from. The city is finding it easier to fill vacancies for some of the lesser known boards as well, by making them more visible to the public directly on the website.