City Survey Important to Strategic Plan, Budget, Quality of Life Issues

Stephanie DeWolfe
So Pas City Manager

South Pasadena wants to hear from you and wants to hear from you now, according to the city’s top administrative official.

“I encourage everyone to take the short survey because it’s important that we hear how we are doing as a city,” Stephanie DeWolfe, South Pasadena city manager, said during a wide-ranging telephone interview last Monday, where the recently hired top administrator touched on several subjects important to the city. DeWolfe has been city manager at South Pasadena since last November.

South Pasadena has released the Community Survey this past weekend that officials hope will help guide the budget and strategic planning process in May and June.

“We are heading into our budget process and we need to hear from the residents what their priorities are,” DeWolfe said. “I think one of our biggest challenges as a city is financial sustainability.”

Perhaps this year more so than years before because, in November, South Pasadena residents will be deciding whether or not to keep the utility user tax, which goes directly into the city’s coffers. This tax, derived from all utilities within city boundaries including taxes on cell phone bills, cable, electricity, and gas, represents about 13 percent of the city’s $25 million budget, according to DeWolfe. She said that if the tax is repealed, the city will be facing a shortfall.

DeWolfe also said that the city cannot take a position on the ballot measure – advocated by a Tea Party faction known as the California Tax Limitation Committee – but can educate the public on what it could mean if that revenue is lost. If voters want to keep the utility tax, they vote “no.” If they want to repeal the tax, they vote “yes,” DeWolfe said.

“We would have to make significant cuts somewhere,” DeWolfe said. “Again, we’d like to hear from the residents what they think. That’s very important.” DeWolfe also said the survey will help guide the city’s strategic planning process.

Continuing, the city manager said the survey is not being done because of the UUT ballot measure but because the city is entering the budget process for fiscal year 2018-2019, which runs from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. The city council will be holding public hearings during its budget sessions coming up in May and June, as the council crafts their fiscal plan for the upcoming year.

The survey requires a minimum of 400 respondents to be a statistical accurate representation of the residents’ viewpoints. The survey is being conducted by True North Research, a firm out of Encinitas, De Wolfe said. True North was involved in helping the South Pasadena Unified School District get input on a recent ballot measure, she said.

“I hope to have three to four times the minimum number,” she explained. “The survey is short, maybe 20 questions, and won’t take much time.” The survey was made available this past weekend and will be available until April 30.

“A random sample of residents will receive an email over the weekend (this past weekend) asking them to complete the city’s Community Survey,” states a press release issued by the city this past week. The press release also guides residents to six events where the survey will be made available for public review and response.

DeWolfe acknowledged that the city can do better communicating with its residents about important issues such as public safety, affordable housing, and emergency operations, to name just a few.

“It’s important to hear from them,” she said. “We need to know how we are doing. That’s why we are doing the survey.”

For more information regarding the Community Survey, go to the city’s website at