Letters and postcards asking selected residents to complete community surveys could be in the mail by Friday.
The Steamboat Springs City Council approved the final changes to the survey Tuesday night, giving the city the go-ahead to start distributing them. But instead of mailing the surveys, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said postcards will be mailed to about 3,000 residents, letting them know they have been selected to answer the questionnaire.
Residents who receive the postcard can either send it back to receive a paper copy of the survey or go online to fill out the survey. The postcard will have a code number for those wishing to use the online version. The code number will ensure that those selected to take the survey do not fill it out more than once.
The city is encouraging residents to use the online version because it is easier for survey-takers and the city, DuBord said. If selected, residents can take the online survey from their personal computers or public computers located in Centennial Hall, Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Routt County Courthouse.
The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments is conducting the survey and is the agency sending out the postcards. The organization will select random names from the Routt County Assessor's Office, the voter registration list and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's list of businesses.
The survey will ask about 125 questions. Some of those questions are geared toward second-home owners, and full-time residents will not have to answer them.
In surveys recently conducted in other Colorado mountain towns, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments had a return rate of 50 percent or better for the online surveys, DuBord said.
"We think it makes it faster and easier for the public and makes it faster to get the results from the survey," DuBord said.
Doing the surveys online means the consultants save the extra time required to enter the data into the computer.
On Monday, 10 volunteers took the survey as part of the city's dry run. DuBord said the survey took the volunteers about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. After receiving input about the survey, DuBord asked the council to take out two questions regarding annexing land into the city and property taxes, saying they spurred too many questions from the volunteer test-takers.
Instead, the city is going to ask the survey-takers to provide their e-mail addresses if they are willing to answer follow-up questions.
The city hopes to have the results from the survey by the time the council starts its budget discussions in October.
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