A superb place to start would be for the council to unanimously vote to participate in the National Citizen Survey, which has been widely tested in communities around the nation. The survey is a low-cost service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, the NCS would allow Atherton to survey citizen opinion for program planning, budgeting, goal-setting and performance measurement.
The council would select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions allow the council to tailor the survey to our unique needs.
Our elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The town manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps. Staff can use the results to improve service delivery.
The survey program includes three mailings to 1,200 randomly selected households, which include the pre-survey postcard and two mailings of the survey instrument. The margin of error (95 percent confidence interval) is low, no more than plus or minus five percent.
I am so convinced of the need for a new approach to our town governance that I will personally pay for the cost of participation in the National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new City Council.
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