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City survey finally good to go

DEL MAR — Council members are finally satisfied with the format of a survey aimed at gauging how satisfied residents are with city services, approving at the Oct. 20 meeting a seven-page, online questionnaire slated to begin after the Nov. 4 election.

Residents will be asked to rate law enforcement and public, safety and administrative services on a scale that ranges from very satisfied to very dissatisfied. Each section also includes an opportunity to provide input on what the city can do to improve services.

Postcards with a unique identifier to access the survey will be sent to registered voters. There are 22 questions, but four ask for personal information for follow-up or statistical purposes only.

Staff estimates it should take a few minutes to complete.

Conducting a citizen satisfaction survey is a goal for the current fiscal year because the last one, done in 2006, didn’t provide helpful information, some council members have said.

Council budgeted $15,000 for the effort but decided to spend half as much by having city staff work with Probolsky Research to complete the survey. At one point there were plans to also garner information using a telephone survey.

A link to the questionnaire will be available on the city website. Residents will have about a month to take the survey.

Probolsky will review the data collected and prepare a summary and overview of the key findings. A report will be presented to council in late December or early January.

According to the staff report, that timing is beneficial because the information can be used to establish goals and program recommendations for the upcoming two-year budget cycle. Planning for that will begin in early 2015.

Councilman Don Mosier was critical of earlier versions of the survey.

“If you try to get a survey that covers everything, each element gets diluted because you’re getting fewer and fewer people that are going to take the time to complete it,” he said during a July meeting.

He also said several questions probably wouldn’t garner enough responses to make a difference, and he had concerns that many taking the survey would be people who had complaints.

He said he is satisfied with the current iteration.

“These are pretty neutral (questions),” he said.

The city is paying Probolsky $6,400 to conduct the survey. There will be additional costs to make and mail postcards.