Mayor Chris Beutler today urged residents to participate in the new Taking Charge Lincoln satisfaction survey. Randomly selected households will begin receiving surveys through the mail later this week. When that survey ends in February, residents who did not receive a mailed survey will be asked to fill out the survey online at lincoln.ne.gov. Mayor Beutler said the Taking Charge process and surveys have given residents a greater voice at City Hall and have impacted decisions on City programs and the budget.
"Good government is government that listens and responds," Beutler said. "To be the best organization we can be, we must listen to our customers, the people of Lincoln, Nebraska. That's why it is so important for the public to take the survey and tell us how we are doing. It's your City and your opportunity to help us keep Lincoln strong and vibrant."
The City has partnered with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center (PPC) since 2008 on efforts to implement outcome-based budgeting, which ties programs to the goals that citizens what local government to accomplish. The process has included surveys and public meetings. (A timeline is attached.) Most of the questions were included in 2009 satisfaction survey so that the City can spot changes in attitudes and developing problem areas. Survey topics include transportation, parks and recreation, economic development, neighborhood life, public safety, libraries, healthy behavior, sustainability, and trust in local government.
While the 2009 survey was conducted by phone, the new survey is being sent by mail to randomly selected households. Using mail will save the City thousands of dollars over the cost of a phone survey and is more inclusive. Phone surveys do not include cell phone users and can exclude younger adults and lower-income families.
The University's Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR) is handling data collection to ensure that appropriate research practices are followed. The PPC says about 600 responses from the mail survey are needed to have confidence in the results at plus or minus 4 percent. Responses to the later non-random online survey will be analyzed separately from the mailed version to protect the generalized projections of the results.
The City also is lowering the survey cost by including research questions on household weatherization. The survey will include questions on energy-related home improvements and programs that can assist people in completing these improvements.
Beutler said this year's Taking Charge Lincoln satisfaction survey is "a tribute to intergovernmental partnership and cooperation" and thanked the PPC and BOSR for their participation and assistance. "Our long relationship with the Public Policy Center has created our Taking Charge public engagement process and together we are garnering national attention for how we are reaching out to you, our 'bosses' in Lincoln."
Beutler urged residents to watch for the mailing from the BOSR and to respond in a timely manner. The adult in the household who has had the most recent birthday will be asked to fill out the survey. "You will be doing an important service for your community as your opinions will help the City Council and me improve the quality of our City services and respond to your needs," Beutler said.