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Tigard survey puts residents in the driver's seat

Public feedback will help shape city's next moves


Where do we go from here?

That’s the question the city of Tigard is putting to residents in a new online survey asking residents their thoughts on a variety of issues.

The hope is to gain some insight into residents' perspectives on hot button topics such as a possible light-rail line coming through town.

According to Kent Wyatt, a senior management analyst for the city, the survey’s results will help develop city planning, prioritize services and guide council discussions as well as help with planning for next year’s budget.The Tigard Public Library is currently closed on Thursdays, but the city is wondering if residents would support re-opening the library, and the added cost to taxpayers that would likely come with it.

“Especially with budget times the way they have been, this is a way to gauge what citizens want,” Wyatt said. “Now we are looking at realigning our priorities with the resources we have.”

The survey asks residents to list what issues the city should tackle and prioritize what is most important for residents including tackling traffic congestion, bringing new businesses to town and building new parks.

Congestion has long been at the forefront of residents' concerns, topping previous surveys in 2009 and 2011.

This survey is different from previous installments, Wyatt said.

This year, the city is trying to find out not only what issues are important to residents, but also how much they would be willing to spend in taxes.

“In the past we would ask a question about whether they support a service, but not ask the follow up, 'Are you willing to pay for it?'" Wyatt said. “This time it’s laid out how much this is going to cost. Considering that, are you far it?”

Two of the biggest issues on the survey involve a possible increase in taxes.

Residents are asked whether or not it’s worth the cost to re-open the Tigard Public Library seven days a week. In 2011, the city closed the library on Thursdays in order to save money.

Re-opening the city’s only library would cost taxpayers about $460,000 a year and would likely be funded through higher taxes or other programs.

The city is also considering building a new police station. For years the city’s police force has been housed inside city hall.

A new police station would require a $34 million bond measure, costing the average homeowner $113 a year in property taxes.

The city also conducted a phone survey to accompany the online component.

Public feedback will influence how the city moves forward with its proposals, Wyatt said. “It’s one thing to say you are for something, and it’s another to ask if you will pay for it.”

In 2011, the city’s survey asked how residents felt about creating a recreation program.

Responses to the survey led the city to create an online list of recreational organizations in town, and the city has been actively addressing issues of recreation ever since.

The city plans to hold two focus groups early next year to further explore portions of the survey, Wyatt said.

Those meetings have yet to be scheduled.

The survey runs online until Sunday, Dec. 15.

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