Three years after the Haines Borough conducted a survey to steer its Comprehensive Plan, manager David Sosa is seeking to conduct a new survey to gauge community opinions and priorities.

The issue arose at the Dec. 16 assembly meeting when resident John Schnabel submitted a letter urging the borough to conduct a short survey on the Juneau Road project. Assembly members expressed reluctance at a one-subject survey but said getting feedback on a variety of issues could be helpful.

Assembly member Diana Lapham called the survey an “excellent opportunity to find out what our community is thinking.”

“Unfortunately, we always have a packed house (in the assembly chambers) that are against issues or things in the Haines Borough, and we never really hear from the other side of the community,” Lapham said. “There is a faction of this community that is never heard.”

Sosa doesn’t have specifics yet for the survey – including cost – but said in an interview Tuesday the borough would likely contract with an outside company.

Assembly member Mike Case supported that idea, as an in-house survey might not be given a lot of credence, he said. “Whatever they come up with will be more honored, if you will, by the public than if we have the clerk do it, for instance.”

Sosa said he’d like to have the survey conducted at the end of the summer with the results in by December. “This will ensure that as many residents are on hand as is possible for the survey and that the final information is available in time for the next fiscal year’s budget process,” he said.

When asked why he thought another survey was warranted after only three years, Sosa said: “Perceptions change. Concerns change. The economic environments change.”

In 2011, the borough paid the Juneau-based consulting firm Sheinberg Associates $100,000 to coordinate the Comprehensive Plan process. Barbara Sheinberg subcontracted with the McDowell Group for a $15,000-$18,000, 50-question phone survey of 200 randomly-selected households. It also included a youth survey of 80 high school students.

The 2011 survey served as a guide for the borough’s work on the Comprehensive Plan and was intended to act as a guide for assembly decision-making. It probed attitudes about quality of life, volunteerism, potential development projects, and existing industries like heli-skiing and cruise ship visitation.

Having updated information for next year’s budget cycle will allow the document to most accurately reflect how the community wants to spend its money, Sosa said.

“I’d rather spend $20,000-$30,000 every two to three years to ensure I am spending $12 million wisely,” he said.

The borough also contracted with resident Lenise Henderson-Fontenot in 2012 to conduct a mail survey of community opinions regarding public facilities and services.

Past surveys haven’t always guided assembly decision-making. The Comprehensive Plan survey found 71 percent of residents supported converting the old elementary school gymnasium into a recreation center with multipurpose rooms.

The assembly later voted to demolish the building.