Plan is for one-way communication
The Town of Twisp plans to increase its social media presence — but strictly as an information source rather than a medium of exchange with town residents.
Twisp has a town website that includes a lot of information about the town’s departments and their functions, as well as links to other information sources. The town does not maintain a Facebook page, nor is it active on other social media platforms.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said the local level of social media “chatter” — much of it inaccurate statements or unfounded rumors about town actions or policies — has greatly increased during the state’s coronavirus protocols.
“It’s really accelerated under COVID [directives],” Ing-Moody said.
“There is a lot of information out there that is not truthful,” the mayor said. “Rumors have caused extra work for [town] staff. … We don’t want our staff to engage in social media bantering. We haven’t embraced it because of the staffing issues.”
Ing-Moody said it would also be unproductive to have “unsolicited feedback” via social media. She said if the town uses social media, it would be “only to correct, not interact.”
Council members agreed that the town would benefit from an efficient way to directly communicate with residents.
The mayor said it’s also necessary to develop a town policy for how staff members and the town’s elected officials post on their personal social media platforms, because those personal postings could be misconstrued as representing the town officially.
Councilmember Hans Smith agreed that there is a need for “a clear policy between the town and personal postings.”
The social media issue will be a topic for discussion by the council’s Public Safety Committee. Ing-Moody said she would do some research into how other towns handle their social media presence.
In other business:
• The council heard an update on the North Town Project from Public Works Director Andrew Denham. The extensive project includes replacement of the 80-year-old water system, new individual service lines, increased fire flow, sewer repairs, and road surface improvements in the neighborhoods north of the Twisp River. Denham said the project is running behind schedule because of unforeseen delays caused by a ruptured water main, and a severed powerline. He said he is devoting much of his attention to the project to help keep in on track.
• Clerk/Treasurer Randy Kilmer submitted a report on the potential for a significant loss of state revenues (such as sales taxes) in the final half of the year because of slower business activity under the COVID protocols. A 20% decrease in state revenues would translate to $50,000 less in revenue that the town would receive.
“This would represent a significant decrease in General Fund revenue which will need to be offset by decreased spending and/or changes in programing,” Kilmer said in a memo to the council.
Councilmember Smith, who is on the town’s Finance Committee, said that in anticipation of reduced revenues, the town has done a good job of controlling expenditures this year.
• The council agreed to a state-mandated program to centralize business license applications, through a third party called Business Licensing Services. Kilmer said the town will continue to collect whatever fees it assesses. Business license applicants will pay a first-time fee of $19, and will be assessed an annual fee of $11 to support the centralized application process. BLS takes care of all the logistics. Kilmer said the process will be faster and more efficient for businesses.
• The council approved an $800 contract with Red Umbrella Designs to design a logo for the town’s “BEE Kind” program. The town plans to launch a campaign urging residents to “BEE Kind” — BEE standing for “be empathetic to everyone.”
Ing-Moody said the idea for the campaign grew out meetings with local business people, many of whom believe they have been “treated poorly” as they adapt to coronavirus containment protocols that are either recommended or required by the state. The BEE Kind campaign is intended to encourage everyone to be compassionate when dealing with others, she said. “It’s about community, not COVID,” she said, characterizing the campaign as “a unifying message.”
• The council formalized “standard operating procedures” for the town’s law enforcement officers during “emergencies and/or pandemics,” particularly related to personal protection equipment.