Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Milton Parks and Rec survey results questioned.

By Jonthan Copsey; Appen Newspapers

July 14, 2010 MILTON -

The Milton Parks and Recreation Needs assessment Survey results were released several weeks ago with great fanfare by the city – now they have a clear road map of what the residents of the city want from their government in terms of recreation facilities and programs. Unfortunately, the results raised two important questions: why did equestrian programs end up in the bottom of the list of requested programs and also why did some horse farm owners not receive the survey?

The city mailed over 11,000 survey forms to residents asking them to list what programs and facilities they want and what they don't. Of particular surprise to some, including resident Marsha Spear, was that equestrian programs fell in the bottom ten, receiving support from just less than a quarter of respondents.

"I would have thought equestrian events would have been more popular given the number of horse farms in Milton," said Spear.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Cyndee Bonacci, she was also surprised by the number, however, for different reasons.

"I figured the number would be lower," she said. "If you look at the entire population, a very, very small minority actually owns horses."

"Even though people in Milton may not own horses, they like to see horses, they like the community feeling of having the horse farms here," Bonacci added.

It turns out that the "very small minority" may have been accidentally left off the mailing list for the surveys, such as one horse farm owner who wished to remain anonymous. According to her, she was left off the mailing list and had to specifically ask for a survey from the city.

Bonacci said the city used Fulton County data from 2009 to compile their mailing list of all residents in the city. Properties owned by businesses – such as banks – were excluded.

What she and her staff did not know was that almost 100 residential properties were not included in that list because they had a special "V" tax designation – "conservation easements."

"After we did the initial mailing we found out there was something called the 'V' classification," explained Bonacci.

When she and her staff realized the oversight, they sent out a second mailing to all properties using this special designation.

According to Lynn Tully, the city community development director, such a designation is often given to rural properties in order to freeze their taxes for several years.

"This is typically used by rural or agriculture properties," Tulley said. And apparently horse farms as well, with many of the farms being left from the initial survey mailing. As soon as Bonacci and her staff found out about the oversight, they pulled the county data on the conservation properties and sent a second mailing of the survey as well as pushed the due date back by several weeks.

In the end, they were accepting surveys until the last minute."We were taking filled-out forms until the week before [the survey results] were due," Bonacci said."To my knowledge we included everybody that we had property information on that were residents," she said. "We tried as best we could to make sure everybody got a survey."


Karl H said...

This article is like ones you see from time to time..."As prison populations swell, oddly, crime rates are down??". Nothing odd about these results. We have dozens of horse farms around Milton where residents can go ride a horse, why do we need to use tax payer money to build another facility. We have one baseball park and NOTHING else! Let's beef up the areas we are lacking in before spending scare dollars on another "public" horse farm!

Anonymous said...

There are 30,000 residents supposedly and the city didn't even poll half of them? I didn't get one and I live on a horse farm, and neither did my neighbors. All by design. Can't rely on the truth, just fix the numbers to show what they want the outcome to be. When are the people who live on open roads going to reaalize that we are not important anymore, unless you live in a subdivision, city council doesn't care about us, they cater to the subdivision in every aspect. For example they did a speeding survey, and spent money to do the survey in SUBdivisions, not the open roads, where people are traveling at much higher speeds, and nevermind the fatal accidents that only have occured on open roads in Milton, not in Subdivisions.

Anonymous said...

We have no money to do anything.

Anonymous said...

I bet they will find money for the "tree police".

Anonymous said...

Just cut the big trees down after 6pm - no one will notice!

Anonymous said...

Why does the city of milton still use the logo of a horse yet does nothing for the farms or the protection of these beautiful animals?