Oregon City Water Rates
In May 1996, Oregon City voters approved a City Charter amendment that rolled back water rates to 1994 levels. The roll-back was set to take effect in 2014, threatening the City’s ability to provide adequate drinking water service to the community. Barney & Worth facilitated a citizen stakeholder committee charged with providing a recommendation for sending a charter amendment to a vote of the community to eliminate the water rate rollback provision. Barney & Worth also conducted public opinion research (with DHM Research) and developed a communications plan for reaching customers and key stakeholders through public meetings, informational flyers, and website materials. The citizen stakeholder group recommended moving forward with a public vote, and in May 2013 the City Charter amendment was successfully passed by voters.
Milwaukie G.O. Bond
When the City of Milwaukie committed to pay for its share of TriMet’s south corridor light-rail project, funding was designated to come from Milwaukie’s General Fund that also supports for the City’s core services such as public safety and the library. In 2014 there was an opportunity for Milwaukie citizens to save money on the light-rail payments and protect core services through the issuance of $4 million in general obligation (G.O.) bonds. This would allow the City to borrow money at today’s low interest rates and extend the payments to ensure future residents who will benefit from the service can also contribute.
Milwaukie retained Barney & Worth and DHM to conduct public opinion research, develop a strategic communications plan, and design public education materials on the bond measure. The proposal was approved by voters in May 2014—Milwaukie’s first successful measure in more than 20 years.
Oak Lodge Water & Sewer District Consolidation
Barney & Worth and DHM Research conducted opinion research and designed a customer engagement strategy for the merger of Oak Lodge Water and Sanitary Districts in Oregon. A financial analysis estimated cost savings of $4.25 million and pointed to opportunities for operational efficiencies. The measure was approved by Districts’ voters (73% yes) in May 2016.
Troutdale Road Maintenance Funding
The City of Troutdale is experiencing flat or declining revenues from its share of state gas tax revenues used to support local street maintenance. In response, the City has been looking for ways to increase and stabilize street maintenance funding. Options include enacting a local option gas tax, which would require a vote of the people to enact, or a street utility fee authorized by the City Council. The City understands the need for educating and engaging the public in this important funding decision and retained Barney & Worth to:
- Develop a strategic communication plan and public education materials for Troutdale’s street funding opportunity, focusing on clear messages for: the possible funding options; conditions of Troutdale’s streets and maintenance equipment; need for additional funds; and the benefits of properly funding street maintenance.
- Conduct public opinion research to gauge the attitudes and preferences of Troutdale voters regarding street maintenance needs and funding options, and confirm effective messaging.
- Augment the City of Troutdale’s staff communications capabilities to support the public communication program.
Barney & Worth’s efforts resulted in Troutdale City Council referring a 3¢ per gallon motor vehicle fuels tax approved by voters at the November 2015 election.
Troutdale Road Maintenance Funding Focus Group
In 2009, Oak Lodge Sanitary District authorized the sale of revenue bonds to support construction of new and upgraded wastewater treatment facilities. In the aftermath of the bond market collapse last year, the Oak Lodge Sanitary District determined that it could save customers $20 million in borrowing costs over 15 years by switching from revenue bonds to G.O. (General Obligation) bond funding.
The Barney & Worth team was retained by the District in late August to initiate public opinion research, develop a public education plan and develop themes and messaging for education outreach. An initial telephone poll fielded in mid-September determined only 32% of district voters supported this approach. However, the poll and focus groups suggested District customers were also hungry for information and responded well to informational messages that described project benefits. Barney & Worth’s fast-paced public education campaign spread the word to every household. In the end, by election day (November 2) the G.O. bond measure passed with 85% voter support.
Portland Public Schools retained Barney & Worth to provide public engagement and communications services in support of the district’s long-range plan to renovate and rebuild their entire portfolio of more than 90 educational facilities. Consultant tasks include: collaborating with the in-house communications team to develop and implement a public engagement plan, facilitating team meetings to monitor the plan activities and results, focus groups, outreach to key stakeholder groups, developing communication points and strategies, writing informational materials including video scripts, organizing and updating the project website content, and supplying information to the upcoming bond measure campaign to fund priority capital projects.
Barney & Worth recently completed an evaluation of the public’s awareness of current conditions of police and parks facilities and gauged support for possible future facilities improvements including: a new police headquarters; development and rehabilitation of existing parks; and expansion of the softball complex. Stakeholder interviews, focus groups and a telephone survey were conducted. The results of the research were presented to the Salem City Council and are being used to inform facilities and funding strategies.
Barney & Worth led public opinion research, outreach and multi-faceted education program to engage the Salem, Oregon community in determining critical transportation funding needs and possible solutions. Consultant tasks included: development of effective messaging; two telephone surveys, focus groups and management of an on-line survey; planning and implementing a Mayor’s Forum utilizing electronic polling technology; and organizing a speakers bureau of city staff and community advocates. The consultant team also supported the communications efforts for the resulting transportation bond measure 24-248, approved by voters in November 2008 – the first transportation measure passed by Salem voters in 13 years.
Additionally, Barney & Worth, Inc. is in the seventh year of a renewable multi-year contract to provide public involvement and strategic communications services for the City of Salem’s Department of Public Works and Urban Renewal Agency. In this capacity as Consultant-of-Record, the firm guides public outreach processes, researches and writes position papers and public information materials, and acts as news media liaison for several projects. The firm also works on assignments with other City of Salem departments, including: City Manager’s office, Fire and Police, Engineering Division, Salem Airport, Transportation Division, and the Utilities Planning Division.