SOU Research Center and city collaborate

SOU Research Center survey to help guide Ashland budget decisions

(Ashland, Ore.) — A survey that seeks to draw input from every Ashland household on city budget priorities is a collaborative project of the Ashland City Council, city staff and the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE). The survey will be distributed in early June to Ashland households that receive city utility services.

“The survey is an important joint effort between the city of Ashland and Southern Oregon University to reach out to the city’s residents,” Ashland City Manager Joe Lessard said. “The survey will give us information on the community’s service preferences going forward and help us understand how to balance them against the City’s funding resources.”

The survey will ask residents’ opinions on 14 budget-balancing scenarios (or “boxes”) that would reduce city spending and/or raise revenue through increases in fees. The object of each box – which will focus on various combinations of city departments or service areas – is to balance a projected $2 million-per-year, ongoing deficit in the city’s budget for the next biennium budget (the budgets for 2023-24 and 2024-25) by determining which services Ashland residents would be willing to have reduced or whether they would be willing to pay increased fees to maintain city spending.

The Ashland City Council and budget staff have been working with the university’s SOURCE office for the past several months to develop survey questions and explain the ramifications of each potential “box” of cuts and revenue proposals. The survey that is being sent to utility customers this month can be completed in just a few minutes and returned in the enclosed self-addressed envelope.

Staff from the SOURCE office at SOU will tabulate and statistically analyze responses to understand residents’ budget priorities and will report back to the city council.

SOURCE is affiliated with SOU, using students, university resources and the expertise of faculty to gather and evaluate research data. Clients for its surveys, program evaluations, implementation studies and economic analyses include government agencies, nonprofits and businesses.