Millcreek mayor says pandemic has helped improve communication, time management
Jul 01, 2020 01:18PM
By Kirk Bradford
Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini talks positives during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Jeff Silvestrini)
By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]
The pandemic has either affected or completely changed the way we communicate in our personal life. The City Journals asked Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini how the pandemic has affected his communications.
Silvestrini said that it has really improved his communications and time management. The pandemic has even allowed him more time to focus on the city’s needs. Silvestrini said, “The pandemic has actually given me time to attend more meetings and to spend more time on city-related correspondence and reading. Nearly all of my meetings are now electronic. This means I spend less time traveling to and from them, which I can use for the matters mentioned.”
Silvestrini said his interaction with the public has improved because being connected electronically allows for quicker access to questions, phone calls and writing email correspondences to the community.
“I have had more time for calls and emails with Millcreek residents, and I have attempted to be even more attentive,” he said. “I am not sure the communication is improved, as there is so much lost when communication is not in person. However, our city’s capabilities to communicate electronically have been improved and we have focused a great deal of time and effort to improve the ability of Millcreek residents to apply online for city services and we have assisted our planning commission and community councils to interact virtually as well as the city council and our departments.”
In comparison to other cities, we asked Silvestrini where he has seen Millcreek excel and positively react to the pandemic. Silvestrini praised residents and the community.
“Millcreek has been a leader in public engagement in the electronic space,” he said. “We were streaming our city council meetings years ago when other cities did not. That transition was something we were ahead on. Our planning and building permit applications have not declined since the pandemic. We just moved everything online. Thus we continued to function efficiently, more so than other cities. We never closed our City Hall. Other cities (and the county) did. We have had many employees working remotely, and they have been able to remain efficient and productive. This is a credit to them and to the modern technology we have installed as a new city. We were not bound to legacy systems and we have been nimble enough to react to this changing time. Also, our economic development team have been all-stars in thinking up ways to assist Millcreek businesses. We relaxed our sign ordinance and license renewal process, created a business directory to show how our businesses adapted to promote COVID safety, and provided helpful information about how and where to apply for PPP and other assistance. I am really proud of them.”
In coping with the pandemic, there have been a number of changes made. Silvestrini explained why Millcreek has done so well at flattening the curve while staying positive through such a difficult time.
Silvestrini said he had noticed a number of positives during the pandemic, one of them being creativity.
Silvestrini said, “I marvel at how creative our residents have been to cope with the pandemic—sidewalk chalk art in neighborhoods, treasure hunts and themed displays which have been designed to entertain bored school children (and parents) and accommodate social distancing have been fun to watch. Social-distanced graduations—I was able to attend three—(is) another example of thinking out of the box by our residents. I am also happy about the level of volunteer efforts to assist older or compromised residents in our community get groceries and other assistance. We also had volunteer efforts to distribute food to those needing assistance through our Millcreek Promise Program and in partnership with the Utah Food Bank. We have run a food distribution in Millcreek every week since November and have assisted thousands of families to cope with this crisis. I am pleased with the level of cooperation we have seen to flatten the curve and with the way Millcreek residents helped their neighbors.”