A telephone survey to gauge residents' views on municipal services and a possible tax increase could be launched as soon as this week after Pickerington City Council gave the project the go-ahead last week.

A telephone survey to gauge residents' views on municipal services and a possible tax increase could be launched as soon as this week after Pickerington City Council gave the project the go-ahead last week.

Council voted 4-3 on May 19 to pay Columbus-based Governing Dynamic LLC $18,500 to poll residents about city services and taxes, and guide city officials' strategic planning after the information is collected.

City manager Tim Hansley said Governing Dynamic will contract with a call center to begin the 47-question telephone survey. The poll will seek responses from approximately 300 randomly selected registered voters in the city.

"The main issue is trying to figure out what services (residents) like and if they would prefer to have some cut or how they might prefer to pay to keep them," Hansley said. "It's to find out how we're doing in general, and what we should do with our funding situation."

The survey will cost $12,500. The remaining $6,000 in the contract will be paid to Governing Dynamic -- run by Hilliard City Councilman Brett Sciotto -- to lead a day and a half planning session to help Pickerington officials implement policies or develop a tax levy.

"They're trying for some time this summer," Hansley said. "The goal is to get all eight elected officials (Mayor Mitch O'Brien and the seven council members) in the same room at the same time."

While council approved the contract without discussing it on Tuesday, supporters have said previously that a number of local communities contract for similar services to get input from residents and guide future planning.

Pickerington officials also are seeking ways to increase revenues since residents rejected a proposed income tax increase last November.

That proposal would have raised income taxes from 1 to 2 percent for those who work in Pickerington but don't live in the city and for those who don't pay an income tax elsewhere. Had it passed, it was expected to generate an additional $3-million in revenue.

The survey contract was tied to legislation to fund a July 4 celebration in the city, and was opposed by council members Cristie Hammond, Keith Smith and Brian Wisniewski.

None of the opponents raised issues specific to the survey during Tuesday's meeting. Afterward, Wisniewski said he doesn't think the $6,000 retreat is necessary and he believes it will give unfair advantages to council members seeking re-election in November.

"They get free advice on what the issues are," Wisniewski said. "I think that it's going to be used for personal gain."

Council President Pro Tempore Jeff Fix and council members Mike Sabatino, Hammond and Smith will be up for re-election in November. Smith has said he won't seek re-election.

Survey questions were developed last week by Hansley, Fix, O'Brien and Governing Dynamic representatives.

Regardless of its results, Hansley said, it's unlikely the city could place a tax issue on the November ballot because there won't be much time to mount a campaign between the summer retreat and the November election.

He added that the city would prefer not to compete with the Pickerington Public Library, which currently is considering placing a 0.75-mill operating levy before voters in November.

"If we choose to do anything, it looks like it wouldn't be before spring," he said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com