Residents' input sought in survey
DADE CITY - Stormwater fees and the future of nightlife in Dade City are two major issues that city residents can voice their opinions on through a Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The city recently mailed 1,000 surveys to gauge residents' opinions on decisions facing the city commissioners and their satisfaction with the way the commissioners, city manager and various city services are performing their jobs. City Manager Billy Poe said that all of the questions were important, but there are certain questions about which the city commissioners and staff are especially curious. "Some of the things are a validation to keep going in the direction you're going," Poe said. "Some are: 'lets take a pause, the citizens want it in this direction.' We use it as a guiding tool."The hot-button issue concerns stormwater management, Poe said. It asks whether the citizens believe there is a need for stormwater management, whether they would be willing to pay a stormwater management fee and what fee amount they believe would be reasonable. The city has been conducting stormwater management studies. The commission has determined that even with grants and Penny for Pasco, a stormwater fee will be necessary to gather all the funding. "Part is going to show up on a bill somewhere," Mayor Camille Hernandez said. Commissioner Scott Black agreed, "The devil's going to be in the details." City staff is hoping the survey can help with those details. Nightlife also is an issue for which the commissioners seek direction. The survey asks why and how often citizens visit downtown. Whether they think the Dade City nightlife should be developed and what kind of nightlife they would support, suggesting restaurant specials, concerts, bars and festivals. "The vision of the staff is to expand the downtown from an eight-hour downtown to a 16-hour downtown so that restaurants and shops would stay open and people are walking around." Poe said. "There's a step in that direction; the Brass Tap is going in," Poe said. "We'll see if we can make it work. If the community says we don't want that, we'll go in a different direction." Poe is especially curious about answers concerning neighborhood improvements. "Do the citizens want to keep their brick streets?" he asked "I think yes, but we want to get the voice of the people." Participants were chosen by random selection from the city's water bill database. They are assured that all responses are anonymous and there is no way of tracking answers back to an individual. "We have about 5,000 customers," Poe said. "We send out 1,000 surveys and we stick them in there randomly every four or five [water] bills. We have no clue who they go out to." "We provide a stamped envelope. We make it as easy as we can," Poe said. Those who have received the survey are asked to have their envelope postmarked by Feb. 22. Last year 17 percent responded. The survey was created by students in the University of South Florida's Masters of Public Administration program. It is the fourth year such a survey has been sent out, Poe said. Poe was familiar with a survey done in Zephyrhills. When he became city manager in Dade City, the college contacted him about doing a similar project. Zephyrhills has its survey project ongoing.