Puyallup: Sumner

Sumner University offers inside look at city’s operations

Ever wondered how the City of Sumner’s budget is generated? Or how the police department operates day in and day out?

Sumner University, offered by the City of Sumner, hopes to inform citizens about their local government during the two-evening event.

“Other cities have something just like this,” said community development director Paul Rogerson. “The general idea is to familiarize folks with City Hall.”

Touted as the shortest and cheapest course one will ever take, the event is free and open to all ages — and for those who live both inside and outside city limits.

“If you you attend both nights, you ‘graduate’ with a diploma and T-shirt,” according to the city’s website.

The event began back in 1999, but recently went to an every-other-year format, and is now in its 14th year of informing citizens about the happenings of their local government.

Each year, the program has different course offerings, allowing citizens to come back year after year if they so chose.

Beginning April 7, Sumner University students will hear from the city administrator, the police chief and the city planner. The fun then continues on April 14, when citizens will hear an update on the comprehensive plan, activities surrounding the U.S. Open in Sumner, a review of public works activities and an update on the Bridge Street Bridge.

Following the final session, small table group discussions will be held, where citizens can voice their opinions on what the city is doing well and share what the city can do to improve. From there, feedback from citizens will be summarized and presented to the city council.

“I enjoy people’s comments and reactions,” Rogerson said. “It helps critics of local government understand that it is more complicated than it seems. People realize it’s not as easy as it looks.”

Most importantly, the event allows attendees to have fun while learning more about their community.

“It is more fun than people expect,” communications director Carmen Palmer said. “I hear groups laughing and there’s lots of humor. Every year when we run it, people are surprised by how much fun they have.”

The event is free, but pre-registration is required as the event is capped at 60 participants.

For more information or to register, visit http://ci.sumner.wa.us/sumner-university/.