Islands Trust (IT) Budget and timing of Public Feedback survey

Mairead Boland


Author: Mairead Boland, Saturna Island

Date: January 19th 2022

Subject: Islands Trust (IT) Budget and timing of Public Feedback survey.

In November 2021 I became aware of the poor timing of the Islands Trust public feedback survey on the budget. The survey is launched in late January, takes place over 10 days, survey results are provided to the Financial Planning Committee (FPC) in mid February and the budget is adopted by Trust Council approximately 10 working days later.

How can this survey have any impact on the adopted budget I asked myself?

After my delegation in Dec 2021 to the Trust Council, when my request that IT use last year’s results was disregarded, I decided to conduct a Citizen Survey based on the central question asked in each of the IT past surveys.

In January 2022, I launched the Citizen Survey with the question which is central to each of the previous IT surveys (2019, 2020, 2021).

“What Budget Principle do you support?”

The results were provided to the Islands Trust FPC for the January 19th meeting.

As of today, 524 people responded from across the islands, of whom 316 commented.

42% of islanders want the budget, expenditures, taxes, to be reduced through the reduction of services and programs.

90% want no increase – this is the sum of those who want a reduction and those who want the budget to remain the same.

9% voted for increased expenditure and activities.

The trends though the IT surveys (2019, 2020, 2021) and now this survey, are significant – none more so than this; 38% wanted an increase in 2019, by Jan 2021 it was 20%, and now in Jan 2022 it is 9%

In summary, the survey is conducted too late in the budget planning cycle to be effective, the survey key questions are poorly worded and little effort is spent analysing the results.

In my opinion the public feedback survey results are not being used to develop or adjust the budget.

At the FPC meeting (Jan 19th) it was agreed in principle to conduct the survey earlier. There was an extensive discussion on the facts and figures to be represented in the survey. There is tension between providing a lot of information and a belief that people will be impatient with an extensive survey – especially if they are using a small mobile device.

I personally believe that the Islands Trust could create an ad-hoc community working group to collaborate on budget creation – those people could become ambassadors to explain the budget to others. This would be true community engagement and consultation.


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