Rolla residents could be surveyed to find out what they think, believe or feel about city services, if the council decides to go ahead with another bi-annual survey.

Rolla residents could be surveyed to find out what they think, believe or feel about city services, if the council decides to go ahead with another bi-annual survey.

The pollsters, if hired, would also ask residents about supporting a couple of taxes.
At the 6:30 p.m. meeting tonight at Rolla City Hall in the Council Chambers, the elected leaders will consider another citizen attitude survey, according to the agenda.

"The city has participated in five bi-annual ETC Leisure Vision Surveys since 2002," City Administrator John Butz writes in his agenda commentary. "Council review is needed to proceed with the survey in late February/early March."

A decision now would make the results available in April, which Butz describes as "an ideal opportunity to kick off a council workshop on strategic planning initiatives."

Butz said the questions on the survey would be standard questions asked of several communities for comparison, plus a few questions pertaining to Rolla.

"The value in the statistically valid survey is that the questions have been consistently used throughout each round, which allows an effective trending of the results locally and effective benchmarking with the 20-plus communities enrolled in the regional comparison," Butz writes.

Butz notes that in addition to the polling company's standardized questions, the city will be allowed to ask three to five specific questions for feedback on local issues.

"We are proposing two questions on park funding issues, one question on the local use tax, and two questions on the smoking ordinance," Butz writes. See below:

The agenda packet for tonight's Rolla City Council meeting includes a draft of the questionnaire that would be used if council approves the ETC Leisure Vision Survey.

Most of the questions are standard, having been used before here and in other communities, and the responses will be used to find or infer trends.

A few questions, though, would address local concerns. Here are the proposed questions for the specifically local issues:

12. The City of Rolla implemented a comprehensive indoor smoking ban in January 2012. This ban covered all businesses with employees, including bars, bowling alley and restaurants. Knowing this, which of the following best describes your correct opinions about the ban?

13. Since the ban was implemented, how has the frequency that you visit bars and restaurants in the City of Rolla changed?

14. Businesses physically located in Rolla are required to collect and remit sales taxes on retail purchases. On the other hand, businesses located outside the state that make sales to Rolla residents online (Internet) are generally not subject to these taxes. This puts local businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Knowing this, which of the following best describes your opinion?

14a. How would your level of support for the tax change if the revenue from the tax were used to support economic development in the city?

15. To reduce costs, the City of Rolla merged the Parks Department and the SplashZone/Centre (rec center). The merger eliminated four full-time employees. Now that the Rec Center and SplashZone bond has been paid in full, the City's 1/2-cent park sales tax is set to expire in December 2013. The City's Park and Recreation Department's operating budget is currently $2.4 million per year. Nearly two-thirds of this funding ($1.55 million) comes from user fees, $225,000 comes from a property tax levy and $625,000 comes from the City's reserves and general operating fund. Since the city cannot continue using reserve funds for an extended period of time, which of the following would you support to help insure the long-term viability of the city's parks system?

16. The City of Rolla has a 1/2-cent Parks Sales Tax dedicated to The Centre (recreation center) that is set to expire in December 2013. Instead of letting the tax expire completely, the tax could be reduced to 1/4-cent and renewed for another 10 years to (1) help fund  basic park maintenance and Centre operations, (2) help fund needed improvements to the park system, and (3) improve public safety by reducing general tax support for parks. Knowing this, how supportive would you be of renewing a smaller Parks Sales Tax if the funds were used for the purposes just described?

In other business or discussion:

• Environmental Services Director Brady Wilson will present a proposed ordinance that would revise existing law regarding special residential collections.

• Councilman Bill Lindgren's request that a section of Highway 72 be renamed in honor of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan will be considered.

• Police Chief Mark Kearse will ask the council to accept a bid for 23 Remington shotguns.

• Mayor Bill Jenks will request motions of support for his reappointments of Terry Harris to the Tax Increment Financing Commission and of Monte Shields to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Both would serve until February 2017.

• The council will consider moving the second meeting of the month, currently scheduled for Feb. 18, which is Presidents Day, to Tuesday, Feb. 19.

• Final reading of an ordinance pertaining to sign regulations will be heard. Community Development Director John Petersen, who presented this for first reading at the last January meeting, will make the presentation again. The Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended the changes.

• Written reports from The Centre, Parks and Recreation Commission, Rolla Municipal Utilities, Board of Public Works and the Planning and Zoning Commission will be received. Minutes of the January meetings, both open and closed, will be considered and approved.