Feedback costs ratepayers $100,000

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2014
Richard King
FAIRFAX NZ
Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King

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The Invercargill City Council has spent more than $100,000 on surveying residents on its services.

The cost has been defended by council bosses as necessary to gauge feedback for the long-term plan, but the two-part questionnaire has not come cheap.

The council poured $47,250 into the first survey last year, focussing on the infrastructure and services department and contracted a Christchurch firm to canvass city residents on their feedback about council processes, issues and future projects.

The second survey, with a price tag of $58,950, is being done this week and focuses on community development and regulatory services.

Council chief executive Richard King said some councils undertook similar surveys biennially, but the Invercargill council only did them once every six years.

They were effective in gauging feedback from a wide range of people and engaging people in the long term plan, he said.

"As a general rule, most people have busy lives and they are only interested if something goes wrong, they expect the council to always get it right."

But King said it needed public input to do that and needed to know what the whole community was thinking, not just those who regularly shared their views with the council.

"We want an accurate result," he said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he knew nothing about the survey or its price tag. "Surely there must be cheaper ways of doing it."

But Shadbolt said the council had to consult the community and the survey was a way of doing that.

Council corporate planner Melissa Short said with planning underway for the long-term plan the surveys were important to use and build on.

The surveying job had been contracted and was awarded to the only South Island firm that put in a tender, she said.

The survey was a three-step process, with the contracted firm first speaking to the council managers involved about the issues and upcoming projects for their departments, before Short pulled together small focus groups of city residents and the questions were formed.

Then, the firm canvassed 770 city residents.

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- The Southland Times

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