Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Steamboat Springs According to results from the city’s online “Dollar Game,” the budgeting priorities of many of the residents who took the survey match those of city officials.
That was the message from Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts to the City Council on Tuesday. The online survey, which ran from Jan. 3 to Jan. 31 on the city’s website, asked respondents to choose which services to fund with only $1 to spend. Each service had a price tag equivalent to its actual cost for city budgeting purposes. Combined, each of the choices added up to $1.42, meaning participants were forced to prioritize spending decisions.
Roberts said he didn’t want to draw a lot of conclusions from the survey, but he offered one to council members.
“What I see here is that our priorities in budgeting dollars match pretty well with the community’s ranking of these,” he said. “In fact, the top 10 items that we budget are almost identical to the top 10 items in this survey. So I think this shows we’ve done a pretty good job of budgeting where the community wants to see dollars budgeted.”
Deputy City Manager Deb Hinsvark, who presented the report, told the City Council that of the 584 unduplicated responses, 506 people chose to fund local fire and emergency services.
Rounding out the top 10 were snowplowing, maintaining trails and open spaces, street and pavement maintenance, Howelsen Hill Ski Area, the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Steamboat Springs Transit’s free local bus service, recreation programs, storm water management and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s summer marketing. Six of the top 10 also were among the most expensive services in the survey.
The group of least-chosen services included funding for Bike Town USA, the three community support coalitions, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, traffic control, regional bus service and the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.
The survey asked for demographic information, which only about half of respondents provided. Of what was provided, 285 said they lived in the city; the best-represented age group was 36 to 45; and the most common income level was between $50,000 and $75,000. An income level in excess of $100,000 was a close second.
City Council member Kenny Reisman asked if there was a way to bring up the results when Steamboat starts drafting its 2013 budget this summer.
But City Council member Sonja Macys cautioned using the survey results because she said they marginalized the segment of the community that doesn’t have access to the Internet.
“I just want to make sure that we’re very clear when we’re using these data to tell a story that the story that is being told by the data is representative of one segment of the community and not the entire community,” she said. “I think it’s important we hear from that segment, but we need to hear from the rest.”
Hinsvark said the survey results soon will be posted to the city’s website.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com