Some 1,200 randomly selected Columbians are being asked to evaluate city life and city services, including public safety.
Postcards notifying the participants were mailed Friday and questionnaires are to begin arriving later this week, city budget director Missy Caughman said Monday.
Responses are due back in about two weeks and council is to get the results of the survey in January, most likely, she said.
The goal is to use the outcome to guide City Council and City Hall on what residents like and don’t like about living in Columbia, Caughman said.
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“It’s a measure – it is not the only measure – that we use to help with priority setting, goal setting and ... making service level improvements,” said Caughman, whose job includes performance management for the city.
This is the first time City Hall has hired Boulder, Colo.-based National Research Center to use a template that is called the National Citizen Survey. About 350 cities and counties in 46 states have used that particular survey, Caughman said.
The city is paying about $20,000 for the survey, which is limited to city residents, she said.
The questionnaire will cover a range of city services and the broader issue of quality of life. Respondents also will have space to express their opinions in an essay format on issues not listed in the questionnaire, Caughman said.
City staffers selected the National Citizen Survey format and tailored questions to local issues, she said.
Only people who live within the city limits were selected and the survey has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percent, Caughman said.
The most recent customer satisfaction survey Columbia has done was in 2007, Caughman said. That study was done by the University of South Carolina. She did not have the results readily available Monday.