Kenai may ask residents what they think about roads, library

Survey says ...

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Kenai city manager is recommending council members ask Kenai residents for more answers to questions like which city roads should be paved and how should they be plowed to what kind of financial support should be used if the library is expanded.

“I think we ought to learn things before we run out to the ballot,” City Manager Rick Koch said at a city council meeting last week.

A survey would provide the city with valuable information about what its residents want, Mayor Pat Porter said in support of the idea.

In the more than 10 years since the city has conducted such a poll, survey methods have improved, she added.

The poll would help give council members more direction on which issues they should be focusing attention on and help avoid time and money wasted on ballot questions that are unlikely to gather public support, Koch said.

“I think we want to be focused on bringing in front of the electorate what they are interested in,” he said. “We don’t want to trot some stuff out there that there’s not any support for.”

Surveys are inexpensive, he said. A survey with a 6 percent margin of error would cost between $2,670 to $4,000, depending on the length of the questions asked, he said.

If the council supports a survey, the poll would likely ask six to 10 questions. Question ideas being entertained for a possible survey so far address several issues, including city standards for roads.

“Is it an appropriate trade-off to spend $70,000 a year to remove snow from the main thoroughfares in town rather than plow it up over the sidewalks?” said Koch, suggesting a possible poll question.

In addition, the city may want to ask residents about the standards used to determine which subdivisions should be paved and, of those that are paved, which should also include gutters, he said.

The idea for a poll was spurred by a discussion about a possible expansion of the city’s library.

Council members at last week’s meeting said they would like to know whether or not citizens would pass a bond proposition to support the expansion of the library, a move that could draw donations from granting agencies, such as the Rasmuson Foundation.

“They are really big on libraries,” Koch said of the Rasmuson Foundation. “Libraries is like the top of their list of things that they want to be involved in.”

However, they are more likely to offer support for a library expansion if the city has passed a bond proposition, he said.

“That shows them a number of things,” he said. “ Not only that it is government supported, but that the voting public is also supportive of the project, as well.”

Koch said that while a city survey is not yet certain, he thinks it is likely.

“If I had to look into my crystal ball, I would say that it’s an 80 percent thing,” he said.

To recommend questions for the ballot, Kenai residents should e-mail Koch at khoward@ci.kenai.ak.us or call 283-7535 extension 222.



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