News

Citizens surveys coming soon

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Sequim citizens can tell city councilors and staff what they really think thanks to two upcoming citizens surveys. The randomly distributed surveys dig into people’s opinions on parks and recreation and customer satisfaction.

 

Consultant Ron Vine, vice-president of ETC Institute in Olathe, Kan., met with City of Sequim councilors and Sequim Parks Advisory board members on March 7, to discuss priorities for the surveys to gauge the community’s needs, priorities and thoughts on city operations.

 

Vine said his company guarantees at least 600 sur-veys for the parks and recreation survey, including at least 300 from within city limits and 300 within the Sequim School District boundaries — and 300 for the customer satisfaction survey within city limits.

 

The customer satisfaction survey will be sent out to about 1,200 people and even more will receive the parks and recreation survey, with all returned surveys being processed. Vine guarantees the surveys will have good demographic and geographic representation, including registered voters and non-voters. He said both surveys could reach a few of the same people or households.

 

City staff and councilors are to approve the surveys later this month before they are administered and data is collected six-eight weeks later. The whole process takes 12-13 weeks.

 

Vine said that in order for the surveys to remain statistically valid they won’t include many open-ended questions and are written for a sixth-grade reading level.

 

“A survey is simply a tool to help decision makers make better decisions,” Vine said. Both surveys are included in the 2011 budget at a cost of up to $30,000.

Big ideas

City Manager Steve Burkett said the surveys would help look at big-picture issues and help the city council’s goal of evaluating options to improve parks and recreation services.

 

At the core of the parks and recreation survey, Vine said, is determining citizens’ views of Sequim parks today, their vision for the future and thoughts on paying for park plans.

 

These are a few priorities councilors and advisory board members identified for the parks and recreation survey:
• What amount of money are people willing to spend for certain services?
• Should the city acquire more parkland? Is so, where?
• Do people desire more organized activities and a program-based system?
• Do people want more ballfields?
• Do people use the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center?
If not, why?
• Do people attend special events and festivals and which ones?
• Is there any interest in particular services, such as sailing and equestrian groups?
For the customer service survey, councilors identified these topics as some of their priorities:
• Perception of quality of services and satisfaction with city staff
• Needs and priorities for street improvements
• Transportation benefit district funding priorities
• Where citizens get information
• Thoughts on health and human service grant contracts
• Shopping habits
• Thoughts on downtown
• How involved citizens feel in decision-making and how to involve them further

• Environmental concerns

 

Vine said in his experience people traditionally are more satisfied with parks and recreation and police and least satisfied with code enforcement and road maintenance because those tend to have negative connotations.

 

Mayor Ken Hays said he felt good about the survey meeting and is excited to see citizens’ responses.

“I’m prepared to face the music for what we are spending money on,” Hays said.

 

Mayor Pro-tem Laura Dubois said at the meeting she might consider doing the survey again to continue seeing what people want.

 

Councilor Bill Huizinga said he feels the only way to improve parks is funding them regionally.
The City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., can be reached at 683-4139 or by visiting www.ci.sequim.wa.us.

 

 

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