New Richmond Finance Director RaeAnn Ailts and Police Chief Craig Yehlik have been making the rounds with the City's 2018 Budget Tour.

Unfortunately, inviting the public to participate in budget planning and discussion at city council meetings and workshops often results in city employees "hearing crickets," Ailts said at the News' tour stop Wednesday, Oct. 18. That is a shame.

However, the City has found a way around that by bringing the budget to community organizations and businesses. Now is your chance to be heard. You even get brightly colored stickers to do it.

What do you want New Richmond to look like in five years? What services are important to you and your family? What capital improvement projects do you think the City should prioritize? Do you feel a new library is a priority? Should the City focus on expanding the airport footprint, and therefore, business there? What do you want to see when North Fourth Street is redeveloped? Are there enough trails and recreational opportunities in town? How much are you willing to pay for these things? How are the streets in town? What should happen with the downtown area?

That's a lot of questions, we know. But who is going to answer them? New Richmond residents should and they have the opportunity to do so through the budget tour. The City's five-year capital improvement plan has identified more than $33 million in projects to be addressed over the next five years. Don't you want a voice in that? That's a lot of money.

As for Somerset residents, you too have a similar opportunity to shape your community. The River + Roads group is an initiative sponsored by the Somerset Community Foundation, led by Kym Dunleap & Erin Hoff (members of SCF) and a steering committee that is working in collaboration with Bridging Somerset (a Somerset Chamber of Commerce initiative to bring together community leaders and organizations to create a coordinated community strategic plan, working for smart growth for Somerset's future).

Members of the public are invited to take part in the growth process by participating in listening sessions, which are scheduled over the next few months. You can share your own stories, hear others' stories and help the group focus on the things you care about and your visions for the Somerset of the future.

Residents from Town of Somerset, the village, Town of Star Prairie, Town of St. Joseph and Town of Richmond are encouraged to participate.

Go to to learn more.

So often we complain about what our government is doing. Participating in these processes is taking action.