Polco develops new economic recovery survey to help local governments understand resident budget priorities moving forward from pandemic related shortfalls
- By Brian Smith -
With sales tax-generating businesses shuttered for several months due to COVID-19, many local governments face extreme shortfalls in revenue used to maintain city services vital to residents.
During the coming months, local governments will face tough decisions about how to balance their budgets, said Michelle Kobayashi, Polco’s Sr. Vice President of Innovation. Involving the community in how municipalities should proceed is key to finding a workable solution for all.
With that need for collaboration in mind, Polco introduces the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Survey for local governments. The survey seeks to understand residents’ priorities for the community and how they would like their city to proceed in making up for revenue shortfalls.
“We want it to be a low-burden way to increase resident representation in these crucial decisions,” Kobayashi said. “We ask things at a very broad level to really get at people’s values and priorities. Then local government staff can use that data to really help them pinpoint what to do. It just gives governments a backbone for priorities so they can rest their decisions on it.”
Making Better, Smarter Economic Recovery Decisions
The survey includes questions about residents’ physical, emotional, and economic health. Residents answer questions about how they think the economy will affect them, their comfort level rejoining the economy and what economic priorities they want their city leaders to focus on.
Involving residents in such matters makes for better, smarter decisions, Kobayashi said. Also, cities can face harsh resident criticism for operating in a vacuum, she said.
“With these results, you can have defense and make the decisions that are best for the whole city rather than just hearing from the squeaky wheels,” she said. “It’s important to make these decisions collaboratively, otherwise you are going to face more criticism.”
Reason for Optimism
Polco CEO Nick Mastronardi said, however, that there is room for optimism. Though the recession may be severe, governments have much more control over the recovery process than in prior economic downturns.
“Policy makers chose to shut down the economy in light of public health and public safety,” said Mastronardi, who has a Ph.D. in Economics. “Because it was a recession of choice, we control the brakes and can regain the speed by loosening back up. But you need to be really careful that you’re mindfully balancing the public safety versus economic recovery aspects of that. That’s best accomplished by maintaining a finger on the pulse of your community.”
You can deploy the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Survey in your own community to gather insights into your residents’ economic and budgetary preferences.