Columbia asks residents for feedback

Apr 11, 2013

This week, a random sample of 2400 Columbia residents will begin receiving surveys from the city of Columbia in the mail and by phone.

Residents not in the sampling group can fill the survey out online.

Columbia Civic Relations Manager Toni Messina said accepting responses outside of the sampling group allows the city to gauge the public’s view on city services more accurately.

“We’re attempting to capture citizens perspectives of how well government is working for them," Messina said.

The City of Columbia has been creating surveys like these with ETC consulting firm since 2003. Chris Tatham, a  consultant who has worked with the City of Columbia, said the surveys allow citizens to better participate in their government.

“If you don’t know what the community has a whole thinks, then how can you make sure you’re serving the needs of the community?” Tatham said.

Messina said responses influence priorities in the city budget, such as last year’s survey, when citizen’s dissatisfaction with city roads after heavy snow urged the city council to put more money into the fiscal year 2012 budget to improve street maintenance.

“We thought anything we could do to increase the number of miles paved or the number of potholes addressed, or the speed with which we could clear snow or debris from streets would help citizens feel more comfortable with how their streets are being maintained," Messina said.

Columbia will close the survey in early May, and a consultant will present the results to the city council this spring.