OTTUMWA — There is a way to communicate with 25,000 residents — now that the Benchmark Community Survey was launched on Tuesday.
Mayor Tom Lazio said former City Administrator Andy Morris and other city officials came up with the survey idea, with a single purpose in mind: to give a chance for residents to give feedback to the public as a whole. Residents answer questions from how the police and fire departments are doing to the appearances of roads.
“This is a wonderful asset,” Lazio said. “Instead of just talking to one person, this survey can reach 100. It really is a step in the right direction for city staff as a whole.”
The 17-question survey starts off with yes or no questions, moves to a rating system and then gives residents an opportunity to write additional thoughts. The survey itself does not allow for people to remain anonymous because Lazio said this survey is meant for Wapello County residents only, not for those outside the county. By making names visible, it allows for an accurate depiction of how many residents answer.
“If the survey allowed people to be anonymous, it can screw up the results,” Lazio said, “because we don’t know who is a Wapello County resident. The purpose of the survey is to get information from residents to see how they see the community and so city officials can be better informed — that’s why people need to list their names.”
Lazio said it’s early in the process, which makes it hard to know what residents believe needs to change, but he said he has seen mixed reactions and encourages residents to take the survey before it closes.
“Having this survey makes it easy for all residents to give their input,” he said. “They just need access to a computer. If they don’t have one, they can go to the public library.”
For Lazio, the survey is about making positive changes to the city, giving a voice to residents and allowing them to reflect on what they love about their town.
“I hope it gives feedback to the public as a whole,” he said. “The responses from citizens here is what will be highly considered. Physical appearance and beautification is something that is discussed a lot. There were visitors recently who were amazed by the different flowers.”
Once the results are compiled, city officials will discuss the results at a date to be determined. To access the survey, go to https://polco.us/groups/city/ottumwa-ia