How to Improve Your Municipal Services
Managing municipal services is a balancing act. Too many new projects (or ones the community doesn’t approve of) and you might be accused of reckless overspending; too few and the community might not have access to the programs it needs.
Table of Contents (5 minute read)
- How to Improve Your Municipal Services
- Public Polling Helps to Develop Better Municipal Services
- How Can Survey Data Improve Municipal Services?
- Learn More About Your Citizens’ Budget Priorities
- Learn More About the Best Ways to Improve Municipal Services
You can find ways to improve municipal services from a variety of sources, from industry events like the AMO Conference to your professional networks and municipal publications. But it's also important to have localized data that tells you exactly what your local community needs and wants.
It’s a fine line to walk between citizen priorities and budgetary restraints. Having plenty of current data that reflects the views of your community can make Council decision-making much easier and more efficient. Data collection can help you improve municipal services and meet citizen expectations.
You have many options for how to collect market research data, but surveys and public opinion polls are often the most common ways. There are different kinds of surveys, including targeted and opt-in. As a source of input, opt-in surveys don’t tell the whole story. Since they usually attract only people who are interested in doing surveys for specific rewards, the data from opt-in surveys won’t necessarily represent the views of every segment of the local population.
Targeted market research delivers more representative data, allowing you to follow municipal budget best practices and allowing Council to make decisions based on what will deliver the best results for your community.
When looking for market research tools it's important to make sure the research is done efficiently. A quality data collection agency should use tools that provide real-time data about the topics you need, with specifically targeted questions to get the information you need, and should use a derived importance analysis method. And all that data should be delivered fast.
Public Polling Helps to Develop Better Municipal Services
In order to develop services that are best suited to a community’s needs, it’s important to have good public polling. Not all public polling is equal, and inaccurate polling can lead to misguided municipal decisions and a disgruntled populace.
When looking for a better public polling methodology, it’s best to confirm that the survey won’t be confined to landlines. Because most people don’t use landlines regularly, depending on landlines for polling purposes will produce skewed results. Other surveys offer rewards that are only of interest to people who want the gift cards the survey is promising. These problems can skew the results of a survey, even one that otherwise seems scientific and comprehensive.
Citizen Satisfaction IQ™, on the other hand, is a population surveying tool that provides quantifiable metrics that municipalities can base decisions on with confidence. It takes its surveying information from different pools and approaches, not limiting itself to one outdated method. The tool allows municipal leaders to see which services local citizens view as priorities, providing true data on citizen satisfaction.
How Can Survey Data Improve Municipal Services?
Market data can be quickly collected about almost any challenge your Council is facing. It can help you determine what services need improvement and give you the data you need to make changes. With good data, you can balance the municipal budget and do what is most needed to improve your community.
The City of Tacoma completed a targeted market research project that helped the city determine which services were the most important to residents, and where they could improve services. The survey was available in six different languages and targeted cell phones and landlines. The survey results helped Tacoma find out which services residents were happiest with, identified which services could benefit from improvements, and determined what improvements would deliver the highest increase in citizen satisfaction. With this data, Tacoma could hit the ground running to strengthen their community.
While Tacoma’s survey covered a wide range of service satisfaction topics, surveys can also be focused on smaller topics, like age-friendly communities. Many communities have large aging populations. It's important to consider what these residents value and what services they need, and also find out how to engage with them in the community.
Survey data can also help you advocate for and maintain public space in your community. Derived importance survey results are critical for topics like this, because it infers the level of importance of municipal projects. If asked to rank the importance of municipal projects, many people would rank every single project as very important. Derived importance uses specific sets of questions to identify how important certain initiatives are. Then a correlation analysis can be done. When the data is analyzed, the relative importance of each initiative is clearly defined. This can help Council prioritize projects based on data.
Learn More About Your Citizens’ Budget Priorities
The area where service priorities overlap with tax sensitivity is where you can take action on community initiatives. But it’s good to make sure that those initiatives are the right ones — the ones actually desired by the community.
With MDB Insight’s Tax Sensitivity Calculator™, selected property-tax paying residents will be given the opportunity to participate in a survey where they can choose which municipal services they want to see improved while getting accurate data about how those choices will directly affect their property taxes.
The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ involves citizens in the budgeting process, helping you and your constituents have more informed discussions about where they want their tax dollars to go. This helps citizens become more engaged in the decision-making process, which has the potential to revitalize the political process and foster a vibrant, passionate community. The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ gives you accurate data about the services your citizens want, and which ones they are willing to pay for. It provides municipalities with fact-based evidence, making annual budgetary decisions easier and ensuring they benefit their communities well into the future.
When used together, Citizen Satisfaction IQ™ and The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ can help you develop municipal services while ensuring accurate data about citizen satisfaction. These two solutions give you the citizen stamp of approval, so you have the confidence and evidence to make important community developments come to pass.