Public safety tour costs city $40K so far
The city of Grand Junction’s public safety facilities listening tour, plus fees paid to a marketing firm to get the word out about the facilities and the tour, has cost more than $40,000, according to the city.
The city spent more than $1,700 on venues, microphones, food, photography, supplies and printed materials, and another $3,445.50 to advertise the five listening tour meetings through the mail or in newspapers.
The city also paid a $1,000 stipend for Mesa State College business students to conduct a survey of 180 people in April, prior to the listening tour meetings. Results from that survey, which asked for opinions on public safety needs and how to pay for them, were provided at listening tour meetings.
The bulk of the cost associated with the tour has come from fees paid over time to local marketing firm Cobb & Associates. The city paid the firm nearly $36,000 to develop and implement the listening tour and help them communicate information about public safety.
City Manager Laurie Kadrich said a resident recommended the city hire Cobb & Associates to help the city find out why a 2008 ballot measure failed to secure funding for a police and fire complex, a replacement for Fire Station One, and three neighborhood fire stations. Last year, the city paid Cobb & Associates $22,600 to take public comments about the project, which were shared with Grand Junction City Council members, and gather residents’ comments and compile the results into a post-election analysis.
The analysis, presented to council members last August, found many residents were confused about what the proposed public safety project entailed and exactly what the ballot questions meant. Analysis results were discussed the same night council members decided not to place a sales tax question on the November 2009 ballot to pay for public safety buildings. Council members discussed a scaled-down version of the original public safety initiative at a workshop prior to that meeting.
Because she and others at the city were immersed in the details, Kadrich said she was surprised to find out “many people were not informed about what the project was or were misinformed about what the project was.” She said the city hired Cobb & Associates to gain an outside perspective.
Early this year, the city worked with Cobb & Associates again to discuss how to “get the message out” about public safety needs, Kadrich said, something she said the firm told the city it wasn’t doing well enough. The idea and title for the listening tour came up during that time, and the marketing firm helped the city and the mayor shape what the tour would entail, she said.
Kadrich said she’s pleased with how the listening tour has gone so far, but wishes the meetings had better attendance. So far, 41 people have attended the first four listening tour meetings. Even so, no two meetings or opinions have been alike.
“There have not been one or two themes emerging. That’s one reason we wanted help filtering the results,” Kadrich said.
The next step after Thursday’s final listening tour meeting is a telephone town hall at 7 p.m. June 22. The call will go out to Grand Junction land-line numbers. The call will include an informational introduction and then people can ask questions of City Council members. The questions will be placed in a queue and organized by a moderator. People with land-lines or cell phones can also call into the town hall. A number will be provided in the coming weeks.
The city estimates the telephone town hall will cost about $3,000.
After the town hall, council members will discuss what to do next regarding police and fire buildings. Kadrich said she doesn’t expect council members to come away from the tour ready to give up on doing something about public safety facilities, but the timeline for changes and what those changes will look like are up in the air.
“The question is not if something’s going to be done, it’s when,” she said.