In 2003, only 5 percent of residents who responded to a city of Ashland survey said they were unemployed and looking for work, and 55 percent said growth and development was too fast.

In 2003, only 5 percent of residents who responded to a city of Ashland survey said they were unemployed and looking for work, and 55 percent said growth and development was too fast.

Today, with unemployment in Jackson County at 12.8 percent, many more Ashlanders are likely unemployed, and development in town has dropped off sharply.

The city of Ashland will give residents a chance to report their updated opinions about the community, the economy and the services provided by the city government via a citizen survey.

On Tuesday, the Ashland City Council authorized spending $16,000 to have the National Research Center Inc. conduct a survey in January 2011. The city will receive a report on the results in April.

The city of Ashland surveyed residents in 1998, 2000 and 2003.

City Councilman Greg Lemhouse said he's not normally a fan of surveys, but the 2011 survey will provide a view of residents' values and opinions and their perception of the performance of city departments.

"We need to get an idea where we are in terms of performance and what their values are for budgeting," he said.

Lemhouse voted with council members Carol Voisin, Kate Jackson, Eric Navickas and Russ Silbiger to authorize the survey. Councilman David Chapman voted against the move, saying he doesn't think the information will be very useful.

Surveys will be mailed to 1,200 residents. City officials expect about 400 of those will be returned. Ashland will be able to compare its results to a National Research Center database of 500 other jurisdictions to see how it rates against other cities, said city Management Analyst Ann Seltzer.

All residents can take part in an Internet survey, although those results won't be statistically valid, she said.

The survey will ask residents to give ratings and information on a variety of subjects, including:

Ashland as a place to raise children Ashland as a place to work Sense of community Housing, shopping, recreation and cultural activities Ease of car, bus, bike and pedestrian travel in town Availability of public parking Availability of quality, affordable food, housing, childcare and healthcare Quality of the natural environment Perception of safety in one's neighborhood and in the city as a whole Use of government services, public transportation and recycling services Quality of services provided by different city departments, including the police, fire, water and planning departments Quality of local schools

To download complete copies of the 1998, 2000 or 2003 citizen surveys, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=21.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.