Our view: Surveying the community | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Surveying the community

At issue

The city mailed a community survey to 3,000 residents this week

Our view

If you received a survey in the mail, read it carefully, fill it out and return it to the city

This week, 3,000 randomly selected residents of Steamboat Springs will receive a community survey in the mail, and today, our message is simple — fill the surveys out and return them to the city.

According to city leaders, Steamboat has not commissioned a community survey of this kind since 2005, and the questions posed in the survey were developed by a committee that has been meeting since December under the leadership of Winnie Delliquadri, assistant to the city manager. Some of those serving on the committee included: Jane Blackstone, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association economic development director; Doug Tuminello, Parks and Recreation commissioner; and Tony Connell and Scott Ford, city council members.

Planning Commission Chairman Jason Lacey, who also served as a committee member, summed up the purpose of the survey in an April 9 article in Steamboat Today. He said the survey was aimed at giving city leaders and staff a “really good, accurate snapshot” of what the community thinks the city is doing right and what it is doing wrong. He said survey results will also help gauge how the community wants to see city funds spent.

The new survey, in our opinion, seems well planned and well thought out. We think sending the survey out to members of the public in the mail, rather than expecting them to go online and fill out a survey without some type of formal prompt, is a better approach. Postcards about the survey were mailed to residents in advance, and this week, the city has followed up by sending the actual survey questions to the randomly selected individuals.

As we stated in the first sentence of today’s editorial, our call to action is simple. We encourage residents who receive the survey to take 10 minutes out of their day to answer the questions thoughtfully and honestly and then return the surveys to the city as soon as possible. The survey can be filled out on paper or online.

The process should be an easy one with only 13 survey questions and 16 demographic questions. Participants will have the opportunity to rate city services and also rank spending priorities. The more people who return the survey, the more statistically significant the results will be. The survey also provides residents with the opportunity to provide input in a constructive manner, and we hope city leaders take the results into consideration when planning for the future.

Efforts by the city to involve the public in the civic process should be applauded, and we think there’s value in gathering information through a statistically significant survey of community members. But we also realize it’s a two-way street.

Members of the public have the choice to remain apathetic or critical of their local government or they can choose to engage and participate in the democratic process by filling out surveys when asked, attending City Council meetings, sharing their opinions with their elected officials, voting on election day and even choosing to run for elected office themselves.

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