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Grosse Pointe City to send survey to residents in early 2020

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 30, 2019

GROSSE POINTE CITY — A survey of residents approved by a unanimous vote of the Grosse Pointe City Council on April 16, 2018, is finally going to happen.

In early 2020, City residents should watch their mailboxes for a community survey prepared by ETC Institute of Olathe, Kansas. City Manager Pete Dame said the company agreed to honor its 2018 price of $14,690 as long as the City undertook the survey in early 2020. He said funds for this project were available in the public improvement/other account, which contains $39,608.

“I think we ought to pull this out of the mothballs,” Mayor Sheila Tomkowiak said.

The City Council agreed, voting unanimously Dec. 16 in favor of undertaking the survey.

“The more data we have to inform (our) decisions, the better (off) we are,” Tomkowiak said.

The City did conduct a survey at least once before, circa 2009, but Dame said this one would be different.

“That was a self-created survey … regarding budget priorities during the (economic) downturn,” Dame said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done a statistically valid survey.”

In the case of this survey, Dame said ETC would send a copy to every one of the City’s roughly 2,200 households. Because the City is so small, officials said it’s possible to send a copy to each home. Tomkowiak said ETC then does follow-up with several additional mailings and the like.

The goal is to “make sure there’s a representative sample,” Dame explained.

“I think anything we can do to get folks engaged is a good thing,” City Councilman Terence Thomas said.

Residents would be able to respond online, if they preferred to do so.

The survey would ask residents how they feel about their community’s quality of life, government services and responsiveness, and also benchmark those results against the results of surveys in other communities in the Midwest and across the country, Dame said. The results could help guide officials in the future to better prioritize and make sure they’re meeting the needs of their residents.

City Councilman John Stemple was concerned about the general nature of some of the ETC survey questions.

“I want to know what people want for our city, as opposed to this wide, broad brush,” he said.

But Dame said the City would have a chance to ask more specific questions as well as general ones. He said one of the major advantages of ETC over other survey firms is that the council has a chance to add up to two pages of their own questions.

“Certain types of questions are more helpful in planning purposes,” Dame said.

It’s not clear why the City didn’t undertake the survey in 2018, when the contract and funds were initially approved by the council. It might have been related to the fact that City officials were busy making changes to the new facilities project, after a plan to move the Department of Public Works to Detroit fell through and the City needed to come up with an alternative, a process that took several months and meetings.