Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Steamboat Springs With increasing demands and fewer resources, the city of Steamboat Springs is bracing itself for some tough decisions in the future. With that in mind, it will be asking local residents which services they use and which projects are most important to them in anticipation of using the results to help make budget decisions next year.
About 4,000 residents of the city will soon be receiving 13-page surveys in the mail asking them what they think of the services the city offers and how their money should be spent. And with the city considering putting a tax question on the 2002 ballot, residents will also be asked about their willingness to pass a tax measure.
In addition, 300 residents will be asked to participate in phone surveys that are scheduled to last about 15 minutes. The phone surveys, which will not cover all the ground the mail-ins will, are meant to validate the results of the written surveys.
The entire process will be conducted by a consultant and the city will never learn the names of the participants, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said. The forms can be scanned to ensure no copying of surveys takes place, according to the consultants.
The consultant chosen by the city, RRC Associates, has done similar surveys in other towns. The city is planning to pay RRC $26,000, as compared to initial cost estimates of $18,000 to $20,000, to send out more surveys.
"The more people that participate, the better response quality we'll get," DuBord said.
The 4,000 surveys will be sent to households within the city limits, though county residents and others who do not receive surveys can call a toll-free number to get more surveys.
On Tuesday, the members of the City Council went over draft four of the survey to determine if it meets their needs. One concern they raised is that if the city allows people to ask for surveys, a special-interest group could sway the results with a big push to fill out surveys.
The council decided it would limit the amount of surveys that could be sent out to people who request them so that one group could not have a statistically significant influence.