Springfield to host focus groups

Residents will be asked to share their opinions on city services.

The city began polling residents through both phone calls and e-mails on April 20, said Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck.

For residents who aren’t contacted, focus groups are being held on May 4 at the The Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome, 700 S. Limestone St. The two sessions will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the third floor Collaboration Room on the CareerConnected Center portion of the building.

The poll results will be used to determine the city’s future operations, including possible changes, Heck said.

“We feel it’s important to gauge the community and get their opinions on the services that we’re providing,” Heck said.

The city provides a multitude of services, but more than 70 percent of its budget is spent on police, fire, EMS and the municipal court. The city could spend up to $31.6 million this year on personnel expenses and medical insurance, according to the 2016 budget approved last December..

The surveys will ask citizens their opinion about the current services provided, as well as their knowledge about those services, he said.

“It’s an important component to capture because, obviously, government sometimes gets lumped in together and people don’t understand the individual services that each level of government provides,” Heck said.

The Hudson, Ohio-based Impact Group was hired to conduct the services at a cost of $18,500. The hiring of the consultant will allow residents to more freely express their opinions, Heck said.

“They feel more comfortable doing that outside of that government structure,” Heck said. “For us to have a great understanding of what the community wants to see, we need that feedback from our residents. I encourage everyone to try to attend.”

Springfield resident Carol Horner said she was generally happy with the services provided by the city.

“With the people and the funds they have available, they do the best they can,” Horner said.

Some services could be improved, especially street repair, she said.

“It seems like they’re always working on it, but there’s potholes everywhere,” Horner said. “That’s the one thing that sticks out to me.”

Once phone surveys and focus groups are held, an online survey will be made available to the public, Heck said.

Limited seating is available for the focus groups. To make reservations, call Regina Jeffers at 937-324-7300 or e-mail Chris Williams at cwilliams@igpr.com.

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