June 20. 2013 10:33PM

Hooksett plans survey to determine what residents want

Union Leader Correspondent

HOOKSETT — After more than a year of discussion, the Town Council has given Town Administrator Dean Shankle authorization to spend $13,550 on a town-wide survey to determine what services residents think are most important.

Shankle said that after the council gave him authorization last week, he agreed to a $13,550 contract with the National Research Center for a statistically valid survey that they will both administer and collect the data for.

“I think it is worth it for the town to do this, we’ve been talking about it for a while, and the council wanted to do it, so it was a good time to jump on it,” Shankle said.

The survey will allow the town to better self-evaluate, Shankle said. According to the National Research Center the National Citizens Survey is five pages long and has a 5 percent margin of error.

“One of the things I worked on is a program that will look at performance measures, which are just numbers, quantitative data about how long it takes to fill a pot hole or police response time or money spent per mile to keep the roads up. That is one aspect of knowing how you are doing, but what a survey does is give the qualitative side of it,” Shankle said.

Council member Leslie Boswak said that the council is excited to get the results of the survey, which Shankle said he expects to go out sometime in the fall.

“The whole concept is to gather performance data and solicit information from citizens to find out what is important to them so we can more easily figure out where to allocate budget dollars. If something is more important to them, we will put more money towards it, that is the concept. It is a concept that is gaining in popularity across the country,” she said.

Shankle added that a statistically valid survey is important because it is nearly impossible to get an accurate perception of attitudes in the town based upon who attends Town Council meetings.

“Say you have 50 people show up for a hearing, while that is a good turnout, the people who tend to turn out are the people who have a direct interest in what is being discussed,” he said.