IVGID GM’s corner: What values do surveys have for the community? | SierraSun.com

IVGID GM’s corner: What values do surveys have for the community?

Steve Pinkerton

Steve Pinkerton

By next Tuesday night, around half of Incline Village/Crystal Bay's registered voters will have cast ballots for two open seats on our Board of Trustees.

Once seated, the new Trustees will be representing all of the residents, property owners, business owners and guests in our community. It is a daunting task when you think about it.

While we have 6,763 registered voters, as of 2010 we also had:

8,930 permanent residents (those who are here at least six months out of the year)

A survey question can’t measure whether or not you’ve read an entire report or never seen the backup information in your life. The same goes for an up or down public vote on a program or project.

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5,330 residents living in an owner-occupied unit

3,600 residents living in a rental unit

18.1 percent of residents over 65 years old

17.0 percent of residents under the age of 18

In 1980, 24.4 percent of the population was under the age of 18, while 5.5 percent was over 65.

The resident population only tells part of the story. We also have:

8,180 parcels that are assessed the recreation fee

534 parcels that are commercially improved

2,535 owner-occupied housing units

1,314 renter-occupied housing units

3,933 housing units that are either for seasonal use or vacant

And if that weren't enough numbers, here is the breakdown as to how these 8,180 parcels access IVGID facilities:

20,737 total picture pass holders

2,438 picture pass holders living in rental properties

5,790 active punch cards

953 parcels have no picture passes or punch cards

Some of the key takeaways:

Our picture pass holders are more than double our population

Over 50 percent of our housing units are vacant or for seasonal use only

Residents living in owner-occupied homes represent about 25 percent of our picture pass holders

Nearly 12 percent of our parcels have no picture passes or punch cards

While our senior population has grown significantly, we still have nearly 82 percent of our population under the age of 65

IVGID also provides water, sewer, and trash services to all of these parcels as well!

I know that was an awful lot of numbers, but I thought it was important to lay out the large and diverse constituency that we serve here in IV/CB.

It should be no surprise that any program or project we propose at IVGID will generate a wide variety of views. A number of constituents have proposed that an independent survey is the easiest way to assess the view of the public on a particular initiative.

While I believe surveys can be a useful tool in measuring public opinion, they are not a panacea. Crafting good public policy is hard work and there is no silver bullet.

Your Board of Trustees and staff represent all of the members of the community — and as you can see from above — IV/CB is not monolithic. We have far more property owners living out of town than in town, 40 percent of our population rents, and over half our picture pass holders aren't residents.

We have over 500 commercial parcels and nearly 12 percent of our parcels don't use any of our facilities. We have an equal number of children and senior citizens, but nearly two-thirds of our residents are between the ages of 18 and 65.

If we were to solely develop policy via surveys, do we weigh the opinion of property owners differently than renters? Do registered voters get special treatment, and how are out-of-town owners assessed — and what about the parcel owners who don't use any of the facilities?

Do residents adjacent to an expanding facility get special treatment when determining survey outcomes?

In addition, a survey question is typically binary: yes or no? It can't measure whether or not you would change your mind if the question was proposed differently or if a program or project was across town instead of next to your house.

A survey question can't measure whether or not you've read an entire report or never seen the backup information in your life. The same goes for an up or down public vote on a program or project.

It doesn't allow for modifications or a compromise that could be a win-win for everyone. And who gets to vote? Just registered voters, parcels owners, or everyone?

I believe that is why we live in a representative democracy. It is up to our trustees who we've elected to work through all of these difficult issues and come up with a solution that provides the most benefit to the community. And it is up to us as citizens to vote and to participate in the decision-making process.

Don't forget to vote!

"GM's Corner" is a twice-monthly column from Incline Village General Improvement Distinct General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who will discuss issues and offer updates regarding various district matters.