Mayor Chris Beutler today encouraged all residents to take the latest online survey as part of the City's "Taking Charge" budget initiative. The survey at lincoln.ne.gov will be available through June 9. Those who take the survey will again have the opportunity to sign up for a Community Conversation between City Department Directors and Managers and members of the public on Saturday, June 2.
The Mayor said past surveys and discussions have provided valuable information as his administration develops budget proposals.
"People need to understand the choices we face and be part of the solution. We need everyone at the decision-making table," Beutler said. "I have come to strongly believe in this process because it helps us identify taxpayer preferences and develop the community consensus we need to move Lincoln forward."
The City again partnered with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center (ppc.unl.edu) to create the survey, which simulates the decisions policy-makers face in developing the City budget for 2012-2013. Those who take the survey will make funding decisions on nine current and new City programs that cost about $2.4 million to maintain in the upcoming budget year. The decisions include:
Once survey participants make their choices, the property tax impact will be automatically calculated. If they choose not to fund any programs, the annual reduction in property taxes would be $13 (based on a house with an assessed value of $150,000). If they choose to fund all the programs, the property taxes would go up about $11 per year. The survey also includes text boxes on almost every page for participants to explain or qualify their choices.
"We are a City of a quarter million people, a small fraction of whom would have a say in the budget without our Taking Charge process," Beutler said. "Only a tiny percentage attends the annual public hearing on the budget in August or has the opportunity to share their ideas with us. By contrast, our Taking Charge process has engaged thousands of citizens over the years in a meaningful conversation. The survey and community conversation help put you in charge, so that the public interest is the priority."
The Taking Charge process began in April 2008. The latest satisfaction survey was conducted by mail in December and January, and it was followed by an online satisfaction survey in February and March. The results of those surveys are available at takingcharge.lincoln.ne.gov.