Survey doesn’t yield clear answers for Charter Commission

If the Williamsport Charter Commission was looking for clear answers from its recent survey, it probably did not get that. But the commission, which will soon make a recommendation on the best form of future city government, got valuable input from the 477 respondents to its survey.

Less than 2 percent of the city’s population took the online survey. We wish the percentage was substantially higher. But the sampling that did respond made some profound statements, some indicating a division of opinion and some indicating clear trends.

Asked if the city can do better, about 80 percent of the survey respondents said that it can.

About 70 percent of those surveyed want to see City Council members elected by district, 63 percent don’t think city government is transparent enough and 56 percent said their tax dollars are not being spent appropriately.

Regarding the last item, 74 percent said specifically that streets and parks money is not being spent appropriately. That seems to speak to an opinion we’ve registered here often, that repair, improvement and modernization of city streets has not been a high enough priority in recent years.

The weight of the survey is compromised by the fact that was online only and included residents from outside the city.

But in the coming weeks, the charter commission has to determine whether priorities such as street conditions can be better served in the future by the present form of city government or a different one.

And ultimately, Williamsport voters will get to register their vote on how best they believe they should be governed in City Hall in the future.

We certainly hope, when that vote happens, the turnout will be a higher percentage of the population than the survey attracted.

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