How to Use Public Opinion Polls to Build a Stronger Community
Understanding the priorities of your community members is essential in order for your Council to develop policies that support community growth. You can learn about the priorities of community members in a variety of ways. You can talk to residents personally, you can poll citizens with DIY services like SurveyMonkey, and you can collect feedback from staff at public services.
While all of these options have their place, and are important, none of them really help you - or citizens - understand how policy changes affect individual tax rates.
The problem with most public opinion polling is that it is generally opt-in, so only certain people will participate, and it doesn’t represent all the demographics in your community. Individual conversations are great, but you don’t have the time to interview every member of your community, document their responses, and then crunch the data yourself. Public opinion polling requires time, resources, and expertise that may not be available to your Council.
How to Get Valuable Results from Public Opinion Polls
In order for public opinion polls to be really valuable to your Council they need to deliver current data that represents a balanced cross section of your community. Developing polls that deliver this kind of information can be complex. And while a public poll may tell you what services your residents want to see, what services they’re actually willing to support with their taxes is a whole different issue.
That’s why we developed the Tax Sensitivity Calculator™. It uses logic to survey your taxpayers about what initiatives they’re willing to support with taxes. As they answer questions they’ll get to see in real time how each decision will impact their current tax rate.
Giving your residents this kind of information helps them better understand how their tax dollars are being put to work, and gives them context for how much certain services cost. Not only does this mean you have better-informed citizens, it also means you have legitimate data about what policies and services your residents will support.
Better data means Council can focus on policies that the majority of residents are willing to pay for, instead of guessing which ones are most desirable. The insight from the Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ also means you can show your residents exactly where their tax dollars are going, and prove that your policy development is informed by actual facts and data.
The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ comes in at just under $10,000, so you likely won’t even need to go through an RFP process to streamline your Council’s policy development process. The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ can also make your budget development process significantly more efficient by clearly prioritizing what projects citizens think are the most important.
The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ at Work
Flagstaff County in Alberta took advantage of the Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ when they had to make a decision about road resurfacing. With the Tax Sensitivity CalculatorTM residents were able to see how each option would affect their property taxes. With the data that came in, the county was able to make a choice based on what the community was most willing to support with their taxes.