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Survey backed for 2,000 Howard households

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – Along with a new village comprehensive land-use plan being worked on this year, the Howard village board wants to conduct a community survey to receive input from residents.

The board passed a motion Monday, July 12 – on the condition to review the questions in two weeks – to proceed with a survey as proposed by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Survey Research Center.

The survey will be provided in a hybrid format with 2,000 emails sent to Howard households to fill out an online survey and 300 postcards mailed out to give recipients the option to fill out the survey online or request a paper survey.

Village Administrator Paul Evert said the hybrid option will cost around $5,350, compared to almost double the cost to mail surveys to 1,500 village households, with an expected sample size of 375, for $10,040.

Evert said Howard last conducted a community survey through UW-River Falls in 2013 when a four-page survey was mailed to 1,865 randomly sampled village residents at a cost of $5,467.

“A return rate of 20%, or 373 responses was deemed by UW-River Falls to have 95% confidence,” he said. “The response rate was 31% (570 completed returns), and the final report deemed to be accurate to within plus/minus 4% with 95% confidence.”

Evert said staff talked about conducting the survey last year, but decided to postpone because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, the number of complaints we had about people about their neighbors was so much higher than any other time, because people were home, they could see the old boat in the backyard or they weren’t happy with the weed line being cut along the fence line,” he said. “People were generally frustrated and cranky, so that’s why we kind of waited until life began to return to some normalcy and people were moving around again.”

Trustee John Muraski said he offered suggestions on how to revise the survey from the one conducted in 2013, eliminating references to things not around anymore and adding references to items now being discussed.

“It was just some general ideas,” he said. “It was nothing specific… Let’s look at the strategic plan and current land use, and post some of those items in and start getting feedback on that from current residents.”

Trustee Adam Lemorande suggested asking specific questions about the Village Center, where the village has plans to build an activities building, pavilion and amphitheater.

Village President Burt McIntyre said he wants the survey to be drafted to generate a high enough rate of return, so “people actually look at it and do something with it.”

The proposed timeline calls for the wording to be put together this summer and the survey sent out this fall.

Closed session

The board went into closed session to review a proposed development agreement for Phase II of the Village Center project and the potential purchase of four parcels located in that area.

It also considered performance evaluation data and compensation of the village administrator.

Evert said the only action taken by the board following the closed session was to move his salary up to the next step on the village’s salary schedule.

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