The Takoma Park City Council has approved awarding a contract to have a resident survey done.
The last time the city held a resident survey was in 2007, 2009 and 2014. The contract would be given to National Research Center, Inc., who has done resident surveys for the city in the past.
There was no significant backlash, but many Council members had input to improve the survey taking form previous years.
“In the past I’ve voted against these surveys quite often because of my concerns that we’re getting the answers we want to hear and not the feelings of the community,” said Council member Terry Seamens.
Seamens’ point led into a debate on where the focus group should fit into the survey taking process, with deputy city manager Jason Damweber giving the options of doing the focus groups after the survey or during. City Manager Suzanne Ludlow added that if done after the survey, it could provide a way to get input from community members that felt they were not represented.
Council member Talisha Searcy noted the possibility of incentivizing survey takers somehow to increase output, adding “are you giving people pens, are you giving them a dollar,” as a few examples.
Damweber said there might not be incentives, but Ludlow added that it is not out of the question completely.
In 2014, the survey was mailed out to 3,000 households, of which 2,862 were eligible, according to the city’s website. Of those eligible households, 1,071 responded, for a response rate of 37 percent.
Council member Kacy Kostiuk added concerns that there should be more languages available to take the survey in. Previously there was a card where residents had a list of numbers where they could be connected to someone to aid in completing the survey.
“We have not exactly gotten our bang for our buck from getting responses from languages other than English through the survey,” said Damweber.