City invites residents to voice opinions by taking National Citizen Survey 

Published 9:03 am Monday, December 18, 2017

The City of Danville wants its residents to experience “citizenship.” And they can start by participating in the National Citizen Survey, which in now in progress.

Danville City Manager Ron Scott said, “Increasingly, I think our residents need to view themselves as citizens. Citizens are not just those who pay taxes and they complain about what is or isn’t done. Citizenship implies and active role in helping to make things better in the community. This is the opportunity for citizens to become involved in that process … It’s a way to have a sense of involvement, ownership in terms of the process and the outcome,”

This is the second time Danville has contracted with the National Research Center Inc. to conduct the standardized survey. According to Advocate-Messenger archives, a sample of 1,200 randomly selected residents were chosen to participate in the survey in the latter part of 2014.

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This time, however, the web-based survey is being conducted via the internet and everyone is encouraged to take about 10 or 15 minutes to answer questions by checking a box that most closely represents their opinion for each question, Scott said. Paper surveys will not be mailed.

He said the survey is used by hundreds of cities and towns, large and small and it attempts to measure three different “areas of pillars,” including community characteristics, governance and participation. 

The City of Danville wants to know, “how residents feel about the quality and quantity of types of services we are attempting to provide, from road repair to parks and rec, and police and fire. Anything that the city does or doesn’t do is on there.”

Scott said the community characteristics include the natural environment and how residents feel about their community’s attributes.

Governance questions are written so that officials can see how residents feel about how their government is working for them. Kind of like, “How are we doing?” Scott said. City officials want to know how residents feel about the city’s services and how they are delivered.

Participation questions are to show how residents feel about their ability to actively participate in their city government to effect change, Scott said.

“We want to hear people in an attempt to measure the attributes, or lack thereof, of the services the government provides to the community,” Scott said. “Individual opinions may be shared widely among others, or maybe a small group with the same opinions, but all opinions are worth receiving, and looking at and seeing if we can do better with the resources we have.

“We do not have robust, unlimited resources. We have to choose carefully and wisely in terms of how we spend our limited dollars.”

Danville Mayor Mike Perros said it’s important for residents to take part in the survey. He said it will be a way to gauge if the city government, “is prioritizing and providing the right kinds of services. Then, if not, what would they like us to do.”

Perros added, “We want to make sure we’re getting input from our taxpayers. It’s their money.”

Scott said the NRC has developed the survey’s benchmarks so “it’s difficult for cities or citizens to fall far from the benchmarks… If you fall below or above any of these areas, it’s noteworthy, either as an area of excellence or it’s an area of demonstrated need of improvement.”

Perros said, “The challenge is what (residents) want and what we can afford, or what they want and are willing to pay for, that’s the challenge.”

Since the results will be announced in late February or early March, Scott said there is time for the city to consider what residents want or need when planning its upcoming budget.

“Again, we have limited resources. We can only pave so many streets and fix so many pot holes with our local monies.”

Scott said, “In the previous survey there was a question about the relative importance to our residents about construction of sidewalks to connect neighborhoods with downtown.” 

About 72 to 77 percent who answered the survey said, “that was an important activity for the city to engage in. As a consequence ever since that 2015 budget, we’ve been allocating additional resources to rebuilding sidewalks to make it easier for people to walk throughout our town, and we’re still doing that. Now that’s a direct result of people responding to the survey,” Scott said.

In addition to the standardized survey, Scott said the city has added a question regarding the master park planning. 

“We thought it would be useful about how we should allocate resources for potential improvements to parks,” since the master plan hasn’t been updated in about 30 years. 

“That’s almost two generations of not having the benefit of really comprehensive planning on parks and recreation, so this survey is also trying to address the absence of the update. This could set the stage for another 25 to 30 years, probably,” Scott said.

“This is the opportunity for people who say, ‘nobody asked me my opinion about things that matter.’ If something matters, then answer the survey.”


To take the survey go to the City of Danville’s home page at and click on the  tab on the left side of the screen that reads, “Citizen Survey

The National Citizen Survey is free to take

It is a web-based survey, no paper questionnaires will be mailed

The NCS will be accepting responses through January.