New Janesville city scorecards are scientific
JANESVILLE City officials hope a survey mailed this week to 5,000 Janesville residents and businesses will help the city council fashion its 2013 budget.
Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said the scientific survey is the next logical step from budget scorecard developed by city staff and used to query public opinion the last two years.
In those years, fewer than 1,000 residents answered the survey, and some noted that city employees themselves could have skewed results.
For the new survey, the city hired the non-profit Cobalt Community Research organization at a cost of $10,000. Participants were selected randomly so the results should be statistically valuable, Winzenz said.
“We see this as a logical progression of the scorecard,” Winzenz said. “What we were trying to get at with the budget advice scorecard, they were actually doing with this survey.”
City staff will not crunch the numbers and will not see anything but final results, Winzenz said.
The company this week sent residents letters, giving them an identification number and asking them to go online and complete a survey. Residents also can contact the company and get a paper form to return.
Council members hope the results will help them gauge residents’ satisfaction with city services and help them establish priorities and service levels.
For instance, the survey might identify areas where the city is spending resources but hold little value to residents, he said. Conversely, the survey could indicate areas considered important by residents but getting little attention from the city.
“It allows us to identify areas where we might consider adding resources or consider reducing resources,” Winzenz said.
The survey includes three sections that ask residents:
-- To rate services and the quality of life in Janesville.
-- How they get information about the city and how they prefer to get information. The council has debated how best to reach residents. It also has reduced the number of newsletters to save money.
-- How they would prioritize city spending across areas such as parks, police, recreation facilities and poverty initiatives.
Cobalt Community Research conducts similar surveys in cities across the country, giving the Janesville City Council the option of comparing results from similar communities, Winzenz said.
The survey also could be compared to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a private sector indication of customer satisfaction, Winzenz said.
The surveys are expected back in mid-August, and results will be ready in early September.
“We really hope the results we get back this year will help us in making the difficult budget decisions that will have to be made,” Winzenz said.
Janesville residents and businesses taking the city survey on satisfaction will be asked to rate Janesville on services and offerings, including:
-- Police enforcement, fire coverage and response times.
-- Traffic congestion and street maintenance
-- Drinking water quality
-- Trash collection
-- Fairness of property appraisals and tax levels
-- Trustworthiness of leaders and the quality of the management
-- Availability of cultural offerings, sporting events and recreation facilities.
-- Cost of living, quality of jobs and affordability of housing.
Residents will be asked to imagine the ideal community and rate how Janesville compares on a 10-point scale.