Democratic decision making on public issues requires that a collective form of public opinion be constructed in order to be legitimate. However, elicitation of collective public opin-ion has been challenging due to conceptual and methodologi-cal dificulties as well as practical constraints. This paper re-visits existing methods of civic engagement through the lens of structured public decision making, and reveals the discon-nects between methods of public opinion and the need for establishing public value and solid decision analysis in demo-cratic decision making. This explains why the current online deliberation systems fail to support formation of decision-relevant public opinions. Based on such understanding, we propose Community Opinion Elicitation (COPE) as a solu-tion to public engagement in local government decision mak-ing. COPE envisions a three-phase process where opinions from the general public are elicited (Phase III) only after public values and solid decision analysis have been estab-lished (Phases I and II). In practice, COPE is implemented by extending traditional online deliberation with two small-group deliberations that address public value identification and decision analysis. This process has been deployed by State College municipal government as a formal method to engage the public. We report our findings from such field exercises and their implications to scaling up online deliber-ation for public decision making.