Prince George residents are mostly dissatisfied with the city's economic development arm and its how the city manages its money suggests the early results from the 2013 budget survey.
As of noon Wednesday, the online questionnaire had garnered 75 responses to questions about residents' level of satisfaction with city services and how they think tax dollars should be distributed.
Of those who filled it in, 49 said they were "very dissatisfied" with financial management, 41 discontent with downtown development and Initiatives Prince George and 37 marked the same unhappiness with citizen engagement.
Fire protection and garbage collection were the top two areas of service with which survey respondents were "very satisfied", with police protection and sewer systems coming in close behind.
Residents also felt more tax dollars should be allocated to roads and slightly less to police and general government than is currently doled out.
While some councillors around the table during Wednesday's first budget deliberation meeting were pleased with the level of response so far - the survey has been online since Feb. 1 - others thought it a drop in the bucket.
"The sample is not enough to come to a conclusion," said Coun. Albert Koehler, while Coun. Dave Wilbur called the amount - relative to the city's population - a "piddle."
"I challenge more people to get involved and have their say," he said, adding residents should embrace the new online form of providing input. This is the first year the city has done a questionnaire like this for budget feedback. In previous years, they partnered with the UNBC Institute for Social Research and Evaluation (ISRE) to poll a random sampling of residents or distributed both hard and online copies of the survey for residents to complete.
The in-person opportunity to offer thoughts on the budget process also didn't yield much interest, with only one person coming forward to speak during the 15-minute period set aside for public consultation.
Mayor Shari Green said that is in keeping with previous years, with the exception of last year when five people came forward during the first night of budget talks. She said the job cuts and layoffs and introduction of the core services review inspired a lot more engagement at the time.
She also pointed out that there are many other opportunities for residents to make themselves heard by members of council, be it on the phone, via email or coming to speak at any city council meeting.
During the budget process, council is also considering input made about the city's services during the core services review sessions.
Another 15-minute public input slot is available beginning at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 in council chambers during the second budget meeting.
The survey will remain online until Feb. 13 as well through the city's website.