Sedona wants to hear from you — again.
Residents are being asked to participate in an online community survey designed to provide insight into how the city government is serving residents, to gauge resident perceptions of the city, and to make comparisons with peer cities.
The survey is administered by National Research Center, and includes questions about quality of life in the community, local policies, demographics, ratings of local government services and resident use of services.
“While we have a number of very active citizens who freely give their opinions, we really only hear from a very small percentage of the total population,” City Manager Justin Clifton said. “Similarly, most citizens engage because they strongly support or oppose a particular issue. This survey enables users to get feedback from the general population across a spectrum of general city issues.”
The survey was initially mailed to a random sample of 1,500 households and now to gain broader input from residents, is online for anyone inside city limits to take until Nov. 8.
Residents who received one of the original mail surveys are still encouraged to complete those as explained in their letters. Clifton said the city only hopes for honest feedback.
Ideally, he said they learn that the products and services they provide are in line with what the community needs and wants. However, it’s just as important to learn about areas where they may fall short so they welcome that feedback, too.
In regard to that feedback, he said it will be used in several ways.
“First and foremost, this information will be reviewed along with other strategic documents to establish broad policy goals of the city council,” Clifton said. “But it will also be used to set targets for daily operations."
For instance, the survey asks about the customer service provided by city staff. Whatever the results, we always want to set our sights on getting better.”
Despite the recent success of the city’s traffic surveys, in which thousands of people responded, he said he’s not sure what kind of feedback to expect this time around.
“The traffic surveys captured a large number citizens who are motivated by a perceived problem,” Clifton said. “Generally speaking, we are all more likely to engage and give our opinions when we perceive a problem. Because this survey is more of a general overview of numerous aspects of our community, it is likely that fewer people will participate.”
However, he said Sedona has historically had participation higher than national averages so he expects that to continue. The survey sample size is set to ensure that the results are reasonably reliable given the percentage of people who are likely to reply.
Citizen Engagement Coordinator Lauren Browne said they don’t have the counts yet on the mailed survey because the it’s still open for people to mail back. She said the city sees value in both the mail-out surveys as well as feedback provided online.
“The random sample answers will be kept separate from the online survey answers to keep the statistical validity of the random sample in tact,” she said. “It will be, nonetheless, interesting to read the online survey results and compare them to the random sample survey answers.”
The most recent survey of this magnitude was completed in 2007 with the same company, National Citizen Survey, Browne said. “What I hope to achieve is to have data that will help us know where to dig deeper into community issues,” she said. “For example, by looking at the results, we can see what areas need more attention and focus, and make choices to improve those areas to hopefully improve quality of life and services in Sedona.”