Community surveys to be done differently

City staff plan to send questionnaires to some Steamboat Springs residents in June

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— A new Steamboat Springs community survey will be shorter and will be distributed differently than the 2002 survey.

Since March, city staff have been working to compile questions for the survey, which will be added to a second-home owners study to be conducted this summer by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said staff members have been trying to reduce the number of questions in the survey so that residents won't be discouraged from filling it out. Currently in its third draft, the survey has about 180 questions. City staff have been told by consultants that surveys should not have more than 150 questions.

"Every expert has told us it is far too long," DuBord said. "We would like to get it in the 120 to 140 range; otherwise, (residents) are just not likely to fill it out."

The 2002 survey had more than 200 questions and a 27 percent return rate, which is very high. But, DuBord said, those surveys were different because community members were not randomly selected. Interested residents picked up the surveys and completed them.

"We didn't take a statistical survey. We allowed anyone to fill it out," DuBord said.

For this round of surveys, the city will allow only people randomly selected from the voter registration list, the Routt County Assessor's homeowner list and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's business owner list. That difference is likely to lower the return rate, DuBord said.

DuBord pointed to a similar survey done in Summit County and noted that officials are having a tough time getting responses because of the length, which is shorter than what Steamboat staff are proposing.

The city plans to send postcards notifying people that they have been selected. Residents can send the postcards back to receive the surveys or go online to fill them out.

The city intends to distribute 2,000 to 3,000 surveys at a cost of about $23,000. The second-home owners study that will accompany them is expected to cost $14,350.

A final, shorter version of the survey is expected to be completed in the next few weeks, and it should be distributed to the community in June. The city will wait 30 days for surveys to be returned or filled out online, DuBord said. The City Council would like to have the results in before entering next year's budget process.

"We do make a lot of decisions based on the surveys. The projects done and what services are provided are based on survey," DuBord said.

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