Surveying the landscape in WoodburyWhat do you think the city’s top priorities should be for its 2010 budget? How do you normally commute to work? Do you think the new roundabout at Radio Drive and Bailey Road has improved traffic flow at the intersection? Those are just a few questions that a random sample of Woodbury residents will be asked in the next few weeks when the city of Woodbury begins conducting its 2009 community survey.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
What do you think the city’s top priorities should be for its 2010 budget? How do you normally commute to work? Do you think the new roundabout at Radio Drive and Bailey Road has improved traffic flow at the intersection?
Those are just a few questions that a random sample of Woodbury residents will be asked in the next few weeks when the city of Woodbury begins conducting its 2009 community survey.
The survey, a project the city has completed once every other year since 1993, will be conducted by Minneapolis-based Design Resources. The polling firm is known for contracting its services to many cities in the metro area for similar municipal surveys.
Starting the first week of February, Design Resources will begin contacting about 400 residents via telephone to complete the survey, which will take about a month to complete. The city will receive the results and a full report sometime in March. Matt Stemwedel, an administrative analyst for the city, is working with Decision Resources to finalize the questions.
“Decision Resources does a lot of these surveys with other cities in the Twin Cities, so they will also use the results to compare Woodbury to other cities,” Stemwedel said.
While many of the questions focus on general topics like transportation, taxes, parks and recreation and public safety, there are also a number of them specific to Woodbury, such as one seeking feedback on the Radio/Bailey roundabout and another about the recent expansion of the Bielenberg Sports Center.
Woodbury city administrator Clint Gridley said the new questions were added with feedback from city council members during a recent workshop where the survey was discussed.
“Many of the questions we ask every year are used to track trends on pretty constant issues,” Gridley said, “But there are obviously new issues in the community, especially those dealing with an economic climate that is much different than we had two years ago.”
Will city stay on top?
Questions about what kind of job people feel their local government is doing will be asked, along with what residents believe should be some of the top priorities in an upcoming budget year, where revenues and expenditures will be tight.
Woodbury City Council member Paul Rebholz said the results of the survey will help the city council in their evaluation of items during development of the budget for 2010 and in development or update of strategic initiatives like transportation, sustainability and health aging.
But Rebholz said the survey also helps officials get a better sense of how residents feel about their community as a whole.
In the past, Decision Resources has ranked Woodbury as one of its “best practices” cities, because it placed at or near the top in all of its resident satisfaction questions.
In 2007, 77 percent of residents answered “approve” or “strongly approve” when asked about the city council’s performance. That was up 10 percent from the 2005 survey.
The percentage of residents who answered “don’t know/refuse” dropped from 26 to 17 percent.
“I think overall, the results will tell you that residents are very satisfied with the way the community is going,” said Rebholz, who began his second term on the council this month. “But we are also looking at the issue specific questions to help us understand where residents are at. That does help us make decisions to some extent.”
Gridley said because of the recent downturn in the economy and news of an increase in home foreclosures, city officials expect some of those “quality of life” results may slip a bit.
“I think that what we’ve seen from results in previous years is that quality of life in the community is a little bit intertwined with economic well being and job situation,” Gridley said. “And taxpayer angst is a growing issue. But on the other hand, from the results we’ve seen in other surveys, local government continues to be the highest-rated government service compared to other levels.”
Stemwedel said that the real story will be told in some of the issues that are affecting Woodbury compared to other similar communities that participated in the Decision Resources survey.
“That’s the part of the survey that people like to see,” Stemwedel said. “How do we stack up against other communities?”
CITY: WE’D LIKE TO ASK YOU SOME QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE WOODBURY COMMUNITY SURVEY:
• Run by Minneapolis-based Decision Resources
• 175-question telephone survey takes about 40 minutes to complete
• 400 residents will be chosen at random
• Results will be compiled and completed by March
• Would you support or oppose the expansion of the Bielenberg Sports Center (additional sheets of ice and bigger field house)?
• How would you rate the quality of education provided by the public school district in which you reside?
• What do you think is the most serious traffic concern in the city of Woodbury?
• How would you rate the general sense of community among Woodbury residents?