County to issue survey later this month
March 3, 2015
Summit County is planning to conduct a survey of approximately 3,000 residents this month in an effort to "take the pulse of the citizens" in the county.
"It is to basically assess residents’ satisfaction with the services the county provides and it let’s us periodically tap into our citizenry and hear back from them in terms of the things they think we are doing well and the things they think we could do a better job of," said Richard Krannich, a Utah State University sociology professor who has been contracted to do the survey.
The surveys will be mailed later this month to random addresses throughout the county and will be sent to three areas: western Summit County, which includes the Snyderville Basin and Park City; southern Summit County, which includes Kamas, Oakley and Peoa; and northern Summit County, which includes Henefer, Coalville and Wanship.
It will include questions to gauge residents’ satisfaction with the services the county is providing and questions about prioritizing a variety of options or alternative directions, Krannich said.
"There are a series of questions that basically lay out a variety of kinds of ways in which the county might prioritize future service delivery across a full range of activities," Krannich said. "It gives some direction in terms of what the population thinks the county ought to maybe do next."
County Council members were concerned whether the questions were reflecting the current issues the county is facing.
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County Council Chair Kim Carson said new, targeted questions will be created about residents’ feelings about growth, transportation, and some of the issues the county is focused on directly.
"I think this will be a good compromise to have some of both," Carson said. "We will have enough of the past, more service-related questions and then some new questions that will provide feedback on issues we are working on right now."
Some of the questions will be different from the previous surveys conducted in 2011 and 2013, but nearly 80 percent of the questions will be identical, Krannich said.
"That’s very intentional," Krannich said. "Some new issues have emerged or if they are not new issues they have risen to the top of the heap in terms of importance."
Krannich said repeating a question from survey to survey is a way to track change and progress.
"What they want to do then is say, ‘are we maintaining our momentum?" he said. "The goal is to track change over time and that requires you to basically ask identical questions every two years."
According to the 2013 survey results, no respondents in any part of the county considered the overall quality of life to be either "very poor" or "below average."
The report went on to state that, "in all three areas just over half of respondents rated quality of life in the county as "above average." Residents in the western part of the county were more likely to rate quality of life in the county as "excellent" than were those living in the other responding areas.
Assistant Summit County Manager Anita Lewis said the information gleaned from the surveys serves as a "report card" for the county.
"We are hoping the surveys identify areas where we were weak and hopefully the next time we do the surveys we will see that we improved," Lewis said.
Sending the surveys and receiving the results costs the county approximately $42,000, which Lewis said is worth it.
"I think it’s hard to put a cost to that because it is so important to know how your citizens feel," Lewis said.
Carson said the survey was budgeted for in 2014, but County Council members felt "it wasn’t worth the expenditure."
"I think every couple years when we look at doing this we will look at the budget and we will look at the issues and whether or not there are areas we feel we really need feedback on that we are not getting from other sources," she said.
County Manger Tom Fisher said it’s difficult to "really get a good scientific look at what your citizens think of you."
"We have to go to that place where we can touch the most people," he added. "Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive."
The 2013 survey response rate was 43 percent countywide, with 39 percent responding for western Summit County, 48 percent for northern areas of the county, and 42 percent for southern areas of the county.
But one demographic County Councilman Dave Ure feels isn’t being reached is the Latino community.
"I believe that probably the most under-surveyed race in the county are the Latinos," Ure said. "But how do you go to them and get them to fill out the paper on the same response without biasing the survey?
"In my opinion, that is a segment of the county that we need to be more familiar with what their needs and their wants are," he added. "I don’t believe the survey is as effective in reaching them."
Fisher said any issues that are brought up can be addressed not only now, but further down the road.
"We have to be out there in many different ways conducting that engagement," Fisher said. "This is just one of those tools in the toolbox and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results."
The county will receive the results from the surveys sometime in late July or early August. Once the county has compiled the information, it will be made available on the county website, http://summitcounty.org/ .
To view the draft for the 2015 Summit County Citizen’s survey, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/1683 .
To view the results from the 2013 Summit County Citizen’s survey, go to http://summitcounty.org/documentcenter/view/413 .
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