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Missoula County survey to seek feedback on operations, budget and policies

Looking to increase public engagement and gather feedback, Missoula County on Tuesday agreed to fund a community survey and study the results ahead of the summer budgeting process.

The contract with Policy Confluence, not to exceed $20,000, will survey roughly 1,700 households this spring. The results should be compiled by the end of June.

“There’s a standard set of questions that will ask about quality of life and the services the county provides,” said Anne Hughes, the county’s communications director.

“We want to start gauging how we’re doing in the county and see if there are ways we can improve how we engage the community and how we involve the citizens and our level of customer service. We want to give them a chance to tell us how we’re doing.

Commissioners said the survey represents a new way of reaching the public and soliciting feedback. It’s intended to gather the public’s perspectives on county operations, policies and general management.

“One of the logical connections is our budget process, where you can generally hear a pin drop in our public hearings related to budget,” said Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “Folks just don’t turn out.”

The results of the survey could help the county set benchmarks and identify areas for improvement. It could also help inform the budget, Strohmaier said.

“You’ll get folks who occasionally want to see us tighten our belts, but with no specificity as to what the rungs on the belt as you’re tighten it are going to displace in the way of services,” he said. “This is a way to get a sense of what people value in the county, and try to align the delivery of services in our budget accordingly.”