Borough Pleased With Early Survey Returns
As of Tuesday, Sept. 11, about 11 percent of Fair Lawn resident surveys had been returned.
Two weeks since resident surveys were mailed out to Fair Lawn home owners and renters, about 11 percent have already been completed and returned.
"We were told 3 percent would make it a successful survey, so we're optimistic about that," borough manager Tom Metzler said. "But what we’re particularly encouraged by is easily 95 percent of the residents that have responded have taken the time to -- there's a section in the back where they can fill in their comments -- put a considerable amount of effort into putting their comments in."
The surveys, which contain questions about municipal engagement and social service preferences, will be used to inform borough council’s budgetary decisions in wake of future cuts that may be necessary as a result of today's tough economic realities.
Metzler said he's seen a healthy mix of both positive and negative comments so far, but that when residents have been critical of the borough, they've offered constructive criticism.
"We didn’t expect that, that they’re that well engaged," he said. "A lot of people have thanked the council for doing the survey, [writing] that it’s the first time in many, many years they’ve been asked what they think about things in town."
Metzler wouldn't reveal any of the early response trends, so as not to taint future results, but said he's keep keeping close track of the surveys as they come in and has been surprised at some of the responses.
"Our expectation was with certain groups we would find a certain thing and we’re not finding that," he said. "Quite to the contrary. It's very interesting."
While the borough expects the large number of early returns to taper off going forward, Metzler said he believes the study will accomplish its goal.
"I think it’s going to do what I hoped it would do when I introduced it to council, and that was give the council a snapshot of what are the people really thinking, what is important, what is not important, what are their issues?" he said. "It's going to be fascinating."
A handful of residents, apparently wishing to remain anonymous, have returned the surveys with the unique identifying label peeled off. Metzler said those responses would not be counted and urged residents to leave the label on.
"We don’t have time to look at the labels, that’s not what’s important here," he said. "I’ve looked at easily 200 of the surveys myself and I couldn’t tell you a single person who sent the survey in. I’m not interested. It doesn’t matter to me."
All four-page surveys are due back to the borough by Oct. 1. They can be returned by mail or dropped off at the municipal building -- either in the borough manager's office or in the drop box outside the building.