SANDPOINT — The City Council is investigating means to gauge public opinion on police service and other departments using surveys early next year.
Council members are planning to issue a variety of surveys over the course of the first few months in 2013. The results of these surveys will help guide the council on what to emphasize during the budgeting process and which projects they recommend Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency to prioritize.
Council members voted Wednesday to include a survey regarding the current status of the police force with utility bills scheduled to mail in February. In addition, council members specified that the survey be loaded onto the police website.
The discussion came about when Councilman Shelby Rognstad proposed scheduling a public workshop with interim police chief Corey Coon to discuss the current state of police service and take questions, comments and suggestions.
As it turns out, just such an event is already in the works. However, Rognstad observed that the event was more of a reception with a meet-and-greet component and not necessarily a public forum. Nevertheless, a majority of council members voted to not make any scheduling decisions for a forum-style event at that time. Instead, they preferred to work out details like finding a facilitator and a venue to encourage a civil and comfortable discourse first.
In regard to surveys, Councilwoman Carrie Logan was interested in seeing contributions go out from each department with significant public involvement. While departments like city clerk, finance and legal would likely be unnecessary, Logan said that it would be very valuable to learn what people though of city services like water, sewer, police, fire, parks, streets and other departments with significant public involvement.
Council discussions also generated other potential uses for surveys in the future. Councilman Justin Schuck noted that public relations questions like, “How has the byway affected your life,” could provide the city with valuable feedback in the future.