Help employees move up the career ladde
We’ve all heard the expression, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” but it seems almost forgotten when it comes to the fragile relationship between government spending and public opinion. A recent poll, mentioned by the National Center for Policy Analysis’ President and CEO John Goodman, surveyed taxpayers on using tax monies to supplement the cost of operating bus services—50% were in support of this. However, once the words, “personal income tax monies” were used in place of “tax monies,” support for the initiative dropped to 27%.With constantly competing data points like the ones mentioned above, how can government agencies decide where to allocate taxpayer-generated funds? It’s not an easy question to answer, but more public feedback is one possible solution.Hold public meetings
That is what Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa did. He invited taxpayers to share their feedback on what should be in Ontario’s 2013 budget by holding pre-budget consultations across the province. Taxpayers could discuss their ideas with him in person during his budget tour, or they could phone in, tweet, fax, mail or email their ideas to special budget-related numbers and addresses. Minister Sousa factored the taxpayer feedback he gathered into the 2013 provincial budget he prepared.The Government of Canada recently launched a similar initiative to gauge how taxpayers feel about immigration levels. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney launched online consultations to garner public input. Meanwhile, his Parliamentary Secretary Rick Dykstra is heading out to listen to stakeholders’ feedback in person on a cross-country consultation tour. The government will utilize this feedback to improve policies and better allocate resources.

To hold your own town hall meeting, you will need to get the word out. Include meeting notifications on neighbourhood bulletin boards, in community newsletters and in mailings. A personalized calendar card serves a dual purpose—it’s an invitation to the event and a reminder of other important dates. Be sure to thank those who attend by providing a simple token of appreciation that also doubles as a public service announcement like a hand fan with meeting or policy information printed on it (in case the room gets warm with all the people inside) or a whistle/light keychain.

Survey
Surveys provide a great opportunity to solicit feedback and make data-driven decisions. And the more a taxpayer can see the correlation between themselves and the results, the more likely they are to participate. Surveys can be given both online and off. Regardless of how you deliver it, keep this in mind. A recent study found that by promoting participation in a survey with a gift or incentive, like a tote bag or water bottle, the response rate increased by as much as 8%.

Poll
Polling can be yet another great way to solicit taxpayer feedback. In a poll, there is generally just one question. And more and more, polling is moving to an online format. This makes it an inexpensive, easy way for your audience to express their opinion. Just a click or two and they’re done. On-site polls can be beneficial and cost-efficient as well. Include a ballot box, polling papers and a tabletop display complete with directions in the common areas of your organization. And don’t forget to thank taxpayers for their time with a pen or notepad imprinted with important contact information.

No matter what method you employ to solicit taxpayer feedback, make sure you use the data you gathered for sound decision making. No matter what, there will always be someone that’s dissatisfied. But a decision backed with public feedback might be an easier one to swallow for those you may have disappointed.

What Does the Public Think About Government Spending?” John Goodmans Health Policy Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.

“2013 Pre-Budget Consultations.” Ontario Ministry of Finance.  Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/consultations/prebud/>.

CIC Consulting Canadians on Immigration Levels and Mix.Citizenship and Immigration Canada. 21 June 2013. Web. 25 June 2013.

Survey IncentivesWolf Wikis. North Carolina State University. Web. 31 May 2012.

Polling 101.” 4imprint.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2013.

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