Columbia sends out annual citizen survey for city services

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COLUMBIA – Columbia residents should keep an eye on their mailboxes, as the city is sending out its annual citizen survey this week.

The survey asks people how they feel about services the city provides or issues it deals with. It also asks how people perceive the city and how they feel about their personal well-being.

People can grade services like public safety, city parks, utilities and street management. City departments attached to those services will receive feedback on how to improve.

A random sample of about 2,400 households will get a mailed copy of the survey, but it is available to all Columbia residents online.

Civic Relations Officer Toni Messina said the survey is a way for people who don't normally contact the city or their council representatives to express their concerns.

"Depending on the responses that they provide, that will give city policy makers, including the City Council and administrative city leadership, an opportunity to kind of see what's most important to people today," she said.

Messina said the results can help the city determine how it can make changes to match its Strategic Plan.

"If we see that citizen satisfaction or agreement is going up or down, that's going to tell us something about the strategies that we're using," she said. "Maybe we'll need to change some of our tactics. Maybe the things we're doing are really working pretty well."

The survey will close at the end of December and the results will be shared publicly at a City Council meeting in early 2018.

Columbia has done eight citizen surveys since 2003, including the last four years consecutively. 960 people completed the 2016 survey. The condition of city streets had the highest dissatisfaction rate among respondents, but almost 69 percent of people said public safety services like police and fire were the most important for the city to provide.