Session, survey let residents guide city’s future

ThisWeek News – February 09, 2014

Powell officials are planning two ways for residents to contribute to discussions about the city’s future.

Powell City Council will conduct a goal-setting session for city officials and residents at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, in council chambers at the Municipal Building, 47 Hall St.

Discussion at that session will help city officials determine plans for the year and questions for its biennial Community Attitude Survey.

Martin Saperstein of the public opinion research firm Saperstein Associates said the city has used the phone surveys for two purposes since they began in 2008: getting progress reports on ongoing issues and discovering what actions the public wants taken on topical issues.

“The value of this is, yes, to track your progress, but also to help you make decisions,” he said.

The council met with Saperstein last week for preliminary discussions on this year’s survey.

Saperstein said council members need to bring him potential decisions council will need to make in the next two years so he can write related questions. After council members turn over their ideas to Saperstein in early March, he will return with questions to be approved by council before surveys begin in May.

About 400 residents will be interviewed for the survey via cellphones and landlines.

Saperstein’s firm last surveyed more than 400 Powell residents in May 2012. According to the survey, 88 percent of Powell residents thought the city was heading in the right direction overall.

More than a third of the residents surveyed in 2012 said traffic congestion was their top concern about the city’s future. About 55 percent said they were not satisfied with local efforts to relieve the congestion.

Saperstein said council should view the survey results as one tool to use in the decision-making process during the next two years.

“You’re not going to make decisions based only on this,” he said. “This will just supplement other sources of information.”

Councilman Tom Counts said he was skeptical the phone survey was the best way to gauge public opinion until he attended a survey session in 2008.

“When I sat in on those calls, I was a firm believer that the telephone interview was truly the best way of doing it,” he said.

The city will spend $3,500 on the goal-setting session and has budgeted $16,250 for the Community Attitude Survey.