Vancouver asks public’s opinions in survey

Responses help city set budget priorities

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

On the Web:

The Vancouver Community Survey will be available online through May 14.

Got an opinion and an Internet connection?

Tell the Vancouver City Council your take on budget cuts, priorities and in which direction you believe the city is headed — even in your Underoos.

The city’s biennial community survey is online now through May 14, at cityofvancouver.us/survey.

The informal Web survey will join information gathered in a scientific phone survey of 403 city households and businesses, to help advise the council’s talks on the 2013-2014 budget, city spokeswoman Barbara Ayers said.

“A scientific survey is great because it’s got credibility, but we also want to know how the average everyday citizens … feel about things,” Ayers said. “It’s a way to keep our finger on the pulse of how people are thinking, of how we’re doing as a city.”

The 22-question Web survey asks questions ranging from a respondent’s age, to which departments residents could and could not accept cuts from. The questions are largely unchanged from the survey held two years ago, in which fewer than half of Vancouver’s respondents said they were satisfied with the direction the city was heading.

The city council let the results of the 2010 survey weigh heavily on their last budget discussions, Ayers said.

“How people felt about priorities, public safety for example, was very important, so that had a very strong bearing on the council,” she said.

The city council sets policy for the budget’s direction; City Manager Eric Holmes is ultimately responsible for the line items in the city’s budget.

Those who live, work or recreate in the city are welcome to take the survey.

In 2010, the approximately 800 Web respondents’ answers skewed close to the results of the phone survey, except online poll-takers were slightly more pessimistic, city officials said at the time.

ETC Institute, a Kansas-based market research firm, conducted the phone survey. The results, which will be presented to the city council in an upcoming workshop, will include benchmark comparisons to prior years and geographic coding to track how residents from different neighborhoods responded. The study cost $11,400, and has a margin of error of about 4.8 percent, Ayers said.

Vancouver has been holding such surveys since 1996; it has been a biannual event since 2002.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.