Survey Says: Residents Want Scaled Back Civic Campus

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The City of Mountlake Terrace recently released the results of a post-election survey about the Civic Campus measure that failed this past November. The City’s goals for the telephone survey were 1) determine if citizens knew the details of the Civic Campus bond proposal; and 2) help the City assess what factors were important for citizens in considering the Civic Campus bond proposal.

The survey contained 8 questions (listed at the bottom of this post) that were asked by an automated system. Several MLTnews readers reported to MLTnews that they had some issues taking the survey but enough people finished the survey to come up with some good results.

The bond measure (Proposition 1) to finance a new Civic Campus was not approved by voters at the November 2, 2010 general election (47% yes, 53% no). Snohomish County reported that 3,083 or 47% citizens voted “YES” while 3,477 or 53% citizens voted “NO” with an overall a final voter turnout of more than 70%. Based on the turnout, Proposition 1 fell short of the 60% super-majority threshold by 853 votes. Locally, regionally, and statewide, turnout for this election was the highest since the early 1970s. For comparison, voter turnout in Mountlake Terrace for the November 2009 election was 44%.

If Proposition 1 had been approved by voters, it would have enabled the City of Mountlake Terrace to issue general obligation bonds totaling no more than $37.5 million maturing over 30 years to renovate the Civic Campus site, originally built in 1961. The additional increase in property tax for the owner of an average home ($256,300) at current levy rates would have been $0.00 (zero) in 2011, about $3.48 per month in 2012, and about $19.27 per month beginning in 2013 through 2040.

According to the City, key findings of the survey included:

  • The results showed that the community wants to keep the Civic Campus proposal on the table, but not vote again on the same package given current economic conditions;
  • At this stage, residents would prefer to see a scaled back version of the Civic Campus, rather than alternatives that fail to provide public benefits such as open space and a Senior/Community Center;
  • The two “vote again” options (scale back & later in the future) are favored by 70 percent of residents, which indicates that the Civic Campus concept is popular, but the timing and cost of the project didn’t work for voters this November;
  • An overwhelming majority of residents were unaware there was a campaign working to help pass the Civic Campus measure (e.g., a “YES Committee that is separate from the City);
  • Residents got information about the Civic Campus primarily from two valuable sources — the City Newsletter (77%) and the Voters’ Pamphlet (71%). Survey respondents admitted there was very little neighbor or business buzz on the topic. More “chatter” would have provided more people with early information; note that MLTnews ran at least 5 posts in the month prior to the election
  • Almost half of residents want to know one of two things: details about the overall project cost or what will be built under a new proposal. In addition, residents do need information about why the Civic Campus is needed; and
  • If the Civic Campus project goes to ballot again, local volunteers should consider engaging a professional to run a YES campaign, with a fundraising budget that would quickly increase awareness (e.g., local media, social networking, YouTube videos) of this project.

The City Council will continue to review the survey results at their annual goal setting meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, at which time they will begin to have a discussion on possible next steps.

[box type=”download”]Survey Questions [pdf]
Voting results by precinct [pdf]
Survey results presentation [pdf]
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What do you think? Do the results reflect how you feel about the Civic Campus?

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