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Columbia Council to survey city residents for views on services


The Columbia Council plans to distribute a city-wide questionnaire to all residents this summer to get a better idea of how they rate the services offered by the Columbia Association.

The survey, prepared by the communications committee of the Columbia Council, will attempt to gauge which services are most important to residents. Council members also hope to get a clearer picture of residents' views on how CA spends the money collected from the annual assessment rate, which is charged to all Columbia residents.

The idea of a first-time survey of all Columbia residents came during this year's CA budget hearings. The survey will be designed to help council members determine the interest and concerns of a larger segment of the city's 70,000 residents, said Evelyn Richardson, former chairwoman of the council's communication committee, which prepared most of the survey.

"We're not looking for quantitative results," Richardson said at last week's Columbia Council meeting. "We're looking for commentary. How do people feel about things?"

A draft of the survey includes questions on whether to raise the current assessment rate of $.73 per $100 of assessed value. The council lowered the rate for the first time by $.02 during last month's budget process.

The draft also asks residents how often they use CA facilities; whether CA should continue its policy of building a pool in each neighborhood; and whether residents would be willing to pay more for membership services by excluding non-residents from the facilities.

"We hope to provide people with enough educational information so that they realize there are choices to be made," said communications committee chairman Fran Wishnick.

Gail Bailey, the council representative from Long Reach, questioned whether the survey was necessary and whether residents would take the time to fill it out.

However, most council members supported the survey.

The council hopes to send the questionnaires out by mid-summer so that the results can be reviewed in time for preparing next year's budget, Wishnick said.

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