- February 5, 2021
As the town works to finalize the wording of questions for its annual citizen survey, the topic of hurricanes and evacuation orders is front and center.
For 2023, the Town Commission recently worked through specifics on asking residents their thoughts on leaving the island for September's threat from Hurricane Ian or deciding to shelter in place.
A question presented by Director of Support Services Carolyn Brown asked residents what may lead them to not evacuate in the future or what kept them from evacuating for Hurricane Ian. The question reads: Which of the following factors might cause you to not evacuate in the case of a major hurricane?
Commissioners’ primary concern was with the list of potential responses. They expressed worry that such a list might provide residents with reasons to “shelter in place” that might not have been considered previously.
“If you’re trying to not have people do things, then don’t give them a way to rationalize it,” Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan said. “(The question) is giving me a whole list of reasons why maybe I shouldn’t evacuate.”
The survey is anticipated to be sent out to residents Jan. 10, 2023. Completion of surveys is expected to take between 16 and 20 weeks with final results to commission planned for April.
The town remains contracted with the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida. Seeking knowledge of resident satisfaction costs the town about $23,000 annually.
According to the staff memo to the commission, the survey provides the opportunity to ask respondents to rank how satisfied they are with town services and the importance of the town working on specific issues.
The town has also included topical questions of policy along with recurring questions about town services and performance designed to establish baselines for managers to review.
The most recent survey garnered responses from 1,441 residents with 99% of responses rating the overall quality of life on the Key as “excellent or good.” According to the final report, the town mailed 8,562 invitations to complete the survey.
The 2022 survey garnered about a 16.8% response rate, which remains constant with previous years where about 17% of residents opted to respond.
Even as the university touted being pleased with the number of responses received since the survey’s inception, the commission still brainstormed more ways to increase participation including mailing a paper copy or asking volunteers to go door-to-door to motivate citizen responses.
New policy and exploratory questions proposed for the 2023 survey include use of emergency personnel, social media following, hurricane preparedness and the amount of time in a year a resident actually lives on the Key.
The survey is completed mostly online after a residence-specific code is sent to homeowners. In the same letter as the unique code, the link to the survey is included.
Residents that would rather fill out the survey in-person may do so at a kiosk at Town Hall or over the phone with Brown.
Staff will take commission feedback into account when finalizing the survey. A final version will be sent to commissioners before it is set for distribution.