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City to go with telephone survey on budget issues

Posted: December 20, 2011 - 1:04am

The City and Borough of Juneau approved a second option for a citizen budget survey — one done by telephone.

After the Assembly recently discussed a League of Women Voters proposal and asked for more information on methodology and other resources, McDowell Group submitted a proposal and list of options.

The Assembly ultimately opted for McDowell's telephone survey because it would provide results significantly faster than the mailout.

The League has traditionally conducted the survey for the city, but typically has done so via telephone. This year it proposed a mailout because it felt there were problems with the telephone version — one reason was because of significant cell phone use. It proposed a mailout that would have gone to all 17,000 bulk mail addresses and would have included return postage. The mailout version would have cost a smidge under $10,000 and they expected about 350 responses. They would have consulted with a professional for data interpretation. The Assembly and the subcommittee tasked with addressing the survey was concerned with the turn-around time. Results wouldn't be in the Assembly members’ hands until March 12 at the latest.

McDowell's proposal for the telephone survey will be to contact 400 adult Juneau residents via land line and cell phone, which it says will provide statistically valid results for a broad perspective (with a 5 percent margin of error). McDowell said if subsections are broken down that margin of error will increase (such as if they focused on specific sectors of Juneau). It will have the response data back to the Assembly by late January or early February. McDowell made the proposal for $10,000.

"This is substantially below our standard rate for this type of survey, but we offer it to you at our costs as a contribution to the social and economic well-being of our community," McDowell's proposal states.

The League's written proposal to the city stated they were aware McDowell had submitted a proposal.

"It is not the League's intent to enter into competition with the private sector," the League's letter states. "Our intent is to assist the CBJ to reach as many residents as possible and obtain valid information."

"We were very sorry not to continue with the League," said Assembly Member Karen Crane, who chaired the subcommittee. "Timing was a considerable issue."

Assembly Member Ruth Danner asked if January or February would be enough time for the Manager's office to make use of the data. City Manager Rod Swope said it is and is earlier than they would normally receive such information.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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