By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Picture Butte is taking the necessary steps to move ahead into the future successfully with a few initiatives town council and town administration is working on.
One giant piece of the puzzle is an upcoming resident satisfaction survey, in regards to services and facilities. Another is a strategic planning exercise, which will lead up to budget preparations.
Town CAO Larry Davidson noted all three of these items are tied together, ahead of upcoming roles and responsibilities training.
Davidson said the town would like to inform the community of a resident satisfaction survey on the way.
“As far as levels of service and what the residents’ expectations are and put it in context of what they think of taxation and things like that,” said Davidson.
It will be an important survey, Davidson noted.
“What we’re planning to do is make it an annual survey. To hopefully improve the level of service to our residents. It will also be used to assist council in determining budget requirements. If we see where there’s a huge response for a specific area of service, maybe garbage collection isn’t being done to everyone’s satisfaction or recycling or whatever it might be — we would use that and try to glean from that information, as to what the actual problems are and bring a proposal forth for council of how we could fix it,” Davidson explained, adding for example it might involve a change of how the town operates.
It might be, Davidson said, a requirement we just don’t have enough staffing or it could be looking at potentially contracted services currently being used by the town.
“And how best we could provide that service,” he said.
From there, Davidson noted, the survey information will be brought into the town’s budget process but also into the strategic planning process.
“We have a strategic planning exercise with council slated for Oct. 16-17. To provide council with a number of opportunities to identify what the plan is and their vision for the next two to three years for the balance of their term, leading up into the start of the next term,” said Davidson.
It is proposed, Davidson said, to have the resident satisfaction survey included in a mailout in early September with town utility bills. “That will be done by hard copy. I think it’s about 16 questions right now.”
Also, it is proposed, an online survey will be utilized through a facilitator facilitating the town’s upcoming strategic planning session.
“He’s offered to provide that service to us,” he added.
Davidson wanted to assure residents the survey will be entirely anonymous.
“There’s no requirement to put your name to it or anything else and we’re proposing to have a draw for something,” said Davidson, adding right now a draw has to be approved by council.
Once council has identified what the town’s priorities are, Davidson said, administration will get together and put together action items to fulfill those obligations, timelines, budget requirements and those types of things.
“Then, it is my hope, we will undertake a community cafe to share that information with our residents and get some feedback. Hopefully, they will see we are trying to be transparent in listening to the needs of our residents,” Davidson added.
As for roles and responsibilities training — usually with new councils, Davidson said — it’s a chance to provide educational opportunities.
“Many people come in, not knowing too much about municipal government. Municipal Affairs is going to come down and provide council and administration with an opportunity to define what each other’s roles are, because they are truly unique. Usually, problems arise when one body or the other starts to cross over to the other’s responsibilities. Again, it’s not that there’s any issues or anything like that, it’s just to help educate and make sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Council’s role is to review and set policy and direction and administration’s job is to carry it out,” said Davidson.
Davidson said he’s looking forward to a very interactive session Sept. 21, which will provide council and administration with opportunities to ask specific questions of Municipal Affairs, related to the needs of the Town of Picture Butte.
Aside from future happenings in Picture Butte, Davidson wanted to thank all the volunteers, the town’s Public Works department and volunteer firefighters for their tremendous efforts during Jamboree Days earlier this month.
“Being my first year here, I was pretty impressed with the attitude and the support this community can put together to make such a successful event happen,” said Davidson.