Please stay on the line — to help influence Powell leaders

ThisWeek News – April 2, 2012

Officials hope residents will be receptive to a new phone survey, which will be used to determine how to fund infrastructure repairs and other city issues.

More than 400 of Powell’s registered voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on their city during an upcoming community phone survey.

In May, Saperstein Associates will randomly select about 400 registered voters to take part in the third survey of its kind.

Those who get the call will be asked to give their opinion on how City Council is doing, which aspects of Powell are most important to them, what improvements need made and what types of ballot issues for infrastructure would be supported.

“Surveys like these act as an opportunity to provide elected officials with the information that they’d find helpful in making decisions on the community’s behalf,”said Marty Saperstein of Saperstein Associates.

Saperstein said conducting a series of three surveys — which started in 2008 and continued in 2010 — allows city officials to see trends in data and ultimately make more-informed decisions.

Questions that have shown up before and will be asked on the new survey include what amenities Powell residents like most and would like to see more or less of, their views of City Council, and where they think the city is headed.

In both previous surveys, the majority of residents said Powell is headed in the right direction, providing city amenities is the most important issue, and the city’s small-town atmosphere is its main draw.

Other aspects of the survey aren’t so routine.

On the city’s first attempt to connect with residents, the survey focused on what type and how much communication was preferred. In the second survey, city leaders were hoping to get a feel for how residents would vote for an income tax increase.

“The 2010 survey touched on the income tax issue that would be on the ballot and, of course, the tax did not pass, and so now we’re looking at what questions we can ask to see how people would respond to a ballot issue this fall,” said Powell Public Information Officer Jeff Robinson.

City Council and Saperstein are working collaboratively to determine which questions will be asked to respondents.

Once the interviews are completed during a week in early May, Saperstein will analyze the data and create a presentation to be made to council in June.

City officials said they will use the data to determine how to fund infrastructure projects as small as sidewalk and street repairs to larger ones such as the Murphy Parkway extension.

The phone survey, which has more than 40 questions, will take an average of 16 minutes to complete.

Saperstein, who has been in the business of conducting and analyzing surveys for 32 years, said the short phone call gives value not only to Powell officials, but also to residents who aren’t normally involved in the city’s decision-making process.

It’s because of this that he’s pleading with residents to stay on the line when an interviewer calls.

“On the community end, it’s an opportunity to express their opinions in a scientific way,” he said.

“Oftentimes it’s the one way to hear from people who might not ordinarily have the time to make phone calls or attend City Council meetings or write letters to the editor or council members, so we want people to take the survey — and we’d think they’d want the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

For the 2010 survey, of the 2,670 random respondents who received a call, only 402 agreed to talk with an interviewer.

To see full reports of previous community surveys, visit the website and click on the “Discover Powell” icon at the top of the page.