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Public safety and street maintenance came up to be the top concerns of Artesia residents as revealed by the recent survey commissioned by the City to help prioritize city services as it gears up for the expected challenges posed by the city budget task for fiscal year 2012-2013.
According to a press release from the City of Artesia, strong preference by residents on controlling local funding over local needs also surfaced in the same survey. Residents expressed readiness in updating the existing business license tax as a revenue-making measure. However, residents voiced their reservation on the utility user’s tax at this time, survey results revealed.
“With Artesia facing so many difficult budget decisions due to State takeaways and declined revenue, it was important to have community feedback on what our service priorities must be, said City Manager Maria Dadian. She added that it is now clear as the survey confirmed that the City must find ways to enhance local control over revenue sources in order to maintain current levels of public safety and police services, including neighborhood patrols, and crime and gang prevention programs.
The Lew Edwards Group (lead consultant) partnered with Godbe Research (subcontractor) presented the survey results at the City council meeting last Monday. The survey showed that maintaining crime, drug and gang prevention programs garnered a top score of 73 % closely followed by maintaining rapid 911 police response time (72%) and sustaining neighborhood police patrols ((69%). Fixing potholes and street maintenance got 70% while 69% value the city efforts of removing blight to prevent dumping of waste, debris, furnishings and appliances on public streets.
Other highlights of the survey are maintain street lighting and traffic signals (66%), renovate and upgrade park facilities (63%), emergency and earthquake preparedness programs (62%), graffiti removal (61%), street sweeping (60%), maintain trees, vines, shrubs on public streets, alleys and medians (57%), obtain helicopter support for police (53%), and add a police services specialist to perform fingerprinting and background checks (51%), add two special assignment police officers (49%), provide community special events like the 4th of July fireworks show (44%), and issue building and safety project permits (41%).
In support of city funding measures, updating the existing business license tax rates scored 61% while the prospect of utility user’s tax showed lack of support to proceed at this time. Catherin Lew of Lew Edwards Group advised the city council to promote and generate further community inputs and to hold roundtable meetings with stakeholders and small business owners thereby acquainting the latter on the new revenue-making measure for the community and at the same time updating the City officials of the residents’ feedbacks.
Lew Edwards Group and Godbe Research were authorized by the Artesia City Council on January 5, 2012 to implement Phase I of the Community Research Survey which was implemented from March 14 to 26, 2012 for an allocated fee of $25,000. Phase II will include community education and engagement activities, re-assessment of community support and if applicable, preparation for measurement placement. Phase III will consist of continued community engagements and outreach activities. Implementation of Phases Two and Three would entail a total cost of not exceeding $48,000 broken down as follows: Lew Edwards Group Consulting Services $27,500, City-requested travel/expenses $2,000, Three Informational Mailers $18,500.
The total cost could be reduced to $42,000 with only two required mailings. The council agreed to discuss this topic further for the special budget session on May 30th.
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