I still believe the root of the problem is a lack of civic education, but realize that this does not help solve the more immediate question which is how to help out the local govt in your mother’s area. It is difficult to give much guidance without knowing the specific issue. But here are some general ideas:
If participation is encouraged and her community has a strong mayor who is supportive I would start there by visiting with him. Your mother would probably have a good idea if the city is failing to do these things because they are understaffed or just don’t realize they need to be done. Depending on the situation, she can convey to the mayor that city services could be greatly enhanced and her group would be so much more effective if a) he hired more qualified people or b) sent his staff for training. Most supportive mayors go way out of their way to help facilitate these types of things. And there are a lot of resources to help too.
If the problem is that participation is not encouraged and elected officials are not supportive even after meeting with the group, it will be difficult. These officials either sustain or create the staff who are tasked with these matters, and if the officials don’t care or won’t address it, there is little that can be done. But at this point it would be due to the elected officials, and what I have learned is that the elected officials are who the majority of people have decided will completely control that community. If someone outside of this majority thinks the officials are not doing their job, there is little choice but to move or put up with the perceived inadequacy.
It’s interesting to also note that while the issues you bring up are usually required to be supplied by law (meeting minutes, etc) I have watched communities where the elected officials regularly do not follow laws and nothing is ever done and these actions are supported by the majority of the citizens. It’s tough to be in the minority! And that is why so many give up.