City polling residents about services, quality of life, safety

Published 11:32 pm Friday, August 17, 2018

The city of Albert Lea is polling residents through Aug. 27 to gauge their thoughts on the community. 

The survey, conducted by Boulder, Colorado-based firm National Research Center, is the third since the city began surveying residents in 2012.

The survey includes questions about the community’s quality of life, local policies, demographics, rating of local government services and resident use of services.

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“We simply want to try to find where the pulse of the community is at,” said Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams. “And not only the services that we provide, but also what do they deem as important issues and what are their important concerns that we need to address.”

Respondents are asked how safe they feel in the city, how they feel about Albert Lea’s natural and built environment, health and wellness and education and enrichment opportunities, and the city’s image or reputation.

The survey includes questions about how likely responders would recommend living in Albert Lea or if they would like to live in Albert Lea on a long-term basis, as well as the availability of health care.

Responders are asked if they would support a $50 per year tax increase on a home valued at $100,000 to build a new community center, or $20 per year on a $100,000 home to improve existing housing stock, build more rental workforce housing apartments or attract more businesses, industries and jobs to the community.

Adams said issues addressed by citizens in the survey are discussed at annual council retreats and through the city’s long-term capital improvement plan, as well as in annual budgets. He noted recent infrastructure improvements came after they were identified as public concerns.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said the survey provides a taste of what the city needs to focus on.

“We need to know that we are doing things well so we know how to continue to focus our attention on the future,” he said of the survey.

Rasmussen said the results of the third survey, expected to be released next month, will provide the clearest indicator of the three surveys of whether the city’s approach is working.

“I’m excited about our commitment to continuing to do these surveys so that we know — not think — we are moving forward,” he said.

Adams noted the survey provides a voice for people who might not feel comfortable speaking publicly.

The survey cost $15,000, which is budgeted every three years.

Rasmussen said the survey is one way the city shows its receptiveness to the community.

“We are trying to get ideas on how we are moving forward and the things that we are doing, and it’s covering a lot of different segments of what we do in the community,” he said. “I think it gives us a feeling of where we are at compared to six years ago.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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