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Special rate variation phone survey starts today

Geoff Helisma As of today, IRIS Research will commence telephone surveys of Clarence Valley residents to ascertain their response to Clarence Valley Council’s plan to increase rates by eight per cent each year for five years, starting with the 2016/17 financial year. The eight per cent includes the IPART-set annual rate pegging limit, which the council has estimated will average 2.5 per cent over the five years. IRIS “is an organisation that specialises in economic, community and industry research for government, business and academic institutions”. The sample base – comprised of 500 responses – will primarily be sourced from the electronic White Pages. The survey is expected to be completed within a week. Only people who have read the council’s brochure, which was mailed out to ratepayers last week, will be able to participate in the phone survey – this will be the first question asked of those surveyed. When the council makes its submission to IPART, only the IRIS survey’s results will be recognised as “reliable” data. Surveys completed by the valley’s residents, either hard copy or electronically, will be regarded as “an indication of community sentiment” because it won’t be regarded as “scientific” or “statistically valid”. The survey will also ask residents about the 24 “discretionary” services that council has identified, “where savings might be made through changes to the current service levels”. According to IRIS, the method the company uses to “create a new theoretical universe of telephone numbers” will provide “the opportunity for all potential numbers [including unlisted and silent numbers] to be selected in the sample”. This, IRIS says, will result in “every household [having] an equal and known chance of selection and [that] every part of the survey area receives a fair proportional representation in the final sample drawn”. Further, “the sample will be randomised to ensure that every number in the sample has an equal chance of being called early in the process and so has the best chance of being contacted successfully”. For detailed information on what the proposed changes to the valley’s services and rates entail, go to Clarence Valley residents have until Friday September 25 to fill out an online or hard copy survey.