Upper Arlington News

City notes

2013 community survey begins this month in UA


Every so often, the city of Upper Arlington surveys its residents to gauge how we're doing in terms of the services we provide and to identify where improvements or adjustments might be needed to stay in tune with the desires of the community.

We are currently in the midst of the 2013 Community Survey process.

Fifteen-hundred randomly selected households will be invited to participate in the survey during September. These households will receive a postcard invitation from the city the week of Sept. 9. This postcard will direct them to an online survey and will provide a user passcode that is unique to their household.

It will also ask that the adult (18 years and older) in the household with the last birthday complete the survey.

To accommodate any members of selected households that do not have easy access to the Internet, a follow-up hard copy version of the survey will be mailed to homes that have not yet completed it online.

We are asking that all households invited to participate in the 2013 Community Survey do so by our deadline of Friday, Oct. 4.

The primary goals of the 2013 community survey are to obtain feedback on areas that include:

* The quality of life in Upper Arlington.

* Satisfaction with existing city services.

* Perceptions of the challenges that currently face UA.

* How the city might best address its fiscal challenges.

* Identifying or reaffirming important goals for the city.

As Upper Arlington faces upcoming budget issues, it is more important than ever to know where our residents stand.

Reductions in the Local Government Fund represent a loss of approximately $1 million annually. Additionally, elimination of the estate tax equates to a loss of $2.1 million to the city's general operating fund, plus a loss of an average of $2.7 million annually used to support capital improvements.

Combined, these losses represent between 15 percent and 20 percent of the city's annual revenue. In addition to addressing the city's future operational challenges, options for funding roadway and other infrastructure projects are in even worse shape. Funding for the seven-year capital improvement program has only been identified through 2016.

Though we've worked hard to prepare for these challenges, there is still much to be done. We privatized our solid waste services in 2008, have reduced staffing levels by 25 percent since hitting a high of more than 300 employees, and cut back on parks facilities maintenance (frequency of mowing and allowing some park areas to return to natural forest).

We've also limited overtime and adjusted employee benefits, including pension and health insurance. The survey seeks to answer how you, the resident, would like us to address these budget issues.

As we move into the fall and the returning data are analyzed, the emerging opinions and themes will be used in a variety of ways, aiding city council as it sets direction for Upper Arlington and as it revisits our 2014 budget.

In addition, our city departments will use the data to determine satisfaction with existing programming and services, possibly obtaining new ideas or suggestions for improvement.

Survey consultant, The Strategy Team Ltd., is undertaking the community attitude survey on the city's behalf, so that the survey content and resulting data provide an accurate snapshot of community sentiment on a number of issues. Since beginning the process, they have conducted a focus group and field-testing of the survey questions to make sure the survey is clear and concise, while getting to the heart of resident opinion on the issues before us.

If yours is among the households selected to participate in the 2013 community survey, I urge you to do your part by responding and making your opinions known. Please allow approximately 15 minutes to complete the survey on behalf of your household.

For additional survey details, contact Emma Speight, community affairs director, at 614-583-5045 or via email at espeight@uaoh.net.

Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.