Smithfield Town Manager Michael Scott and members of the Smithfield Town Council want to know what citizens think about town services.
The council voted 5-to-1 earlier this month to spend $18,770 to survey 400 random citizens living in the city limits to received feedback on how the town is doing and to promote community engagement.
Scott said other towns like Durham and Pinehurst take similar polls on a regular basis.
Smithfield selected ETC Institute for the survey. ETC will mail letters to 400 random residents, tabulate the results and then make a presentation to the manager and town council.
The $18,770 cost is equal to $46.92 for each survey taken.
Town Councilman Marlon Lee voted against spending taxpayer funds for the survey. Lee said he and the other board members had no advance notice the item was going to be on the June 6th agenda for a vote.
“Basically for something to be thrown at us that night – spending that much money – from my standpoint is East Smithfield going to have any input in the survey, and then for some of the things the survey may identify as needs, will it be fixed or is it wasted money. What is going to come out of it? We can be using that money for something else. That is my personal strong belief,” Councilman Lee told WTSB News.
Councilman Perry Harris questioned how the company could come up with the 400 random names while making sure it equally polled all four voting districts, including East Smithfield. Scott said he was confident the company could provide a true representation of each district.
Scott said if ETC cannot complete the random survey by mail, they will contact residents by telephone. In hopes of getting the 400 residents to complete and return the survey, each letter will include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
The town board agreed to take $6,256.67 from three areas, the General Fund, Water and Sewer, and Electric Fund, left over in the current budget year ending Friday to pay for the survey.
The $18,770 cost also includes a $1,750 fee that ETC charges to present the survey results in person. ETC was the low bidder for the project.