Brighton’s community survey in 2021 will come in two phases beginning in March and continuing through May.

Representatives from Polco/NRC briefed City Councilors on the plan for the survey at their Feb. 23 meeting.

According to Demema Mann, national engagement director for the consultants the first phase will see the survey mailed to 3,700 residents beginning late in March. According to Mann, 1,200 will receive a paper questionnaire that residents will be asked to fill out and mail back. Another 2,500 will receive a postcard with an address linking to an online version of the survey.

A second phase begins at the end of April when the online survey link is opened to all residents.

“Once the scientific survey is wrapping up, we will give you an identical version of the survey that can be shared with the community as a whole,” Mann said. “Those results are tracked separately but it gives all the residents that want to participate a chance to do so. It’s a great community engagement tool and it gives everyone a chance I have their voices heard.”

The consultants will continue accepting surveys through May 10, with results available in June.

A City Council presentation of the results is tentatively set for June 22, Mann said.

“The link is public, it’s interactive and you can post on your website and share it as you need,” Mann said.

In all, the survey will cost Brighton $18,325, which includes mailing the surveys and postcards and Spanish translations, collecting and analyzing the results and presenting them back to the City Council.

Linda Ong, communication specialist for the city, said Brighton usually performs a survey every seven years. They sent out bids for the 2021 survey, receiving 11 proposals ranging in price from $16,587 to $63,200, favoring Polco/NRC which had the third-lowest bid price.

Ong said city staff thought the company’s survey method would give the best view of Brighton’s characteristics and offered both online and mail-in surveys. Cost was also a factor.

“Only two other firms were at a lower price point, but they were lacking in survey experience and only offered limited survey methods, online or on the phone,” Ong said. “There would be no mailing option.”

The city hired NRC, or the National Research Center to perform the 2014 survey. Since that time, the company merged with Polco.

Standard and custom questions

Brighton’s survey will consist of multiple pages of questions meant to determine how Brighton residents think the city performs on a scale of one to four. Most of those will be standard questions the company uses in community surveys around the country and in Colorado, Mann said.

“Most of the questions on the survey are fixed, as is the wording, and that allows us to provide you with a tried and true survey instrument,” Mann said. “It also allows us to provide benchmark comparisons.”

Mann said the company also provides surveys for Adams County, the town of Erie and the cities of Northglenn, Westminster and Commerce City as well as 45 other communities in Colorado. The company will be able to compare responses to the standard questions across those other communities, comparing Brighton’s resident’s answers.

“That helps us put your results into context, in addition to allowing you to compare trends between 2014 and 2021,” Mann said. “We can let you know if the ratings are higher, lower or similar to other communities.”

The city will also get the chance to ask custom questions specifically asked by councilors and city staff.

“While most of the survey is fixed and standardized, you will have that half-page of customization and we have been talking with city staff about what questions to include,” Mann said.

In Brighton’s survey, the custom questions being considered would ask how residents rate potential responses to homelessness — with responses including providing temporary shelter, building affordable housing, enforcing camping bans within the city limits, providing health care and community service benefits for the homeless and continuing to fund groups and organizations that provide help for people experiencing homelessness.

Another set of Brighton-specific questions asks residents to rate projects and issues the city faces. These include building a sports facility for organized sports and concerts, promoting downtown businesses, continuing to develop Founders Plaza, increasing housing options, street improvements and preserving open space.

Councilor Matt Johnston said he is nervous that the survey does not include a phone-in option and said he worries about excluding some residents because they don’t pay attention to surveys they get in the mail.

“My generation is not into mail,” Johnston said. “It’s a distraction, a hated entity by most of the people I know. I’m just scared about what age difference is going to show.”

Mann said the phone surveys have limited impact, according to current survey industry thinking and noted that many Brighton residents have cell phones from other parts of Colorado or other states that would not be included in most Brighton calling lists.

“It would add a lot of expense and would not ultimately be helpful,” Mann said.

But Mann said she’s confident younger residents would respond to the online surveys.