Town of Atherton


RECOMMENDATION: The City Manager requests that the City Council approve a professional services agreement with GODBE Research, Inc. for professional opinion research survey and communication strategy consulting services and that the Council authorize the City Manager to execute an agreement in an amount not to exceed $19,550.00 BACKGROUND: The Town of Atherton currently has a long-term financing mechanism in the form of a Parcel Tax. The Parcel Tax will sunset June 30, 2010. After several conversations between you, the Finance Director, Senior Management, and me, you directed me to research the process and cost of “polling.” Between January 20 and January 29, I conducted an informal telephone survey to determine the general services provided and cost to engage a consultant to assist the Town to solicit Atherton voter opinions regarding long-range financing mechanisms. The informal survey resulted in costs ranging between $10,000 and $80,000 dependent upon the scope of services required. Additionally, I met with Ann Ritzma, City of Pacifica, and discussed Pacifica’s recent experience using consultants to solicit voter opinions on long-term financing mechanisms as well as voter satisfaction with City operations. On January 30, 2009, the Council held a special study session and, by consensus, directed Staff to investigate long-term financing mechanisms well in advance of the Parcel Tax sunset date of June 30, 2010. The Council discussed hiring a consulting firm to conduct an Atherton resident survey regarding the upcoming Parcel Tax and/or Utility User Tax and/or General Tax. The

Staff Report March 18, 2009 Page 2 of 2

consulting firm would coordinate public outreach and educational information regarding the proposed ballot measure. Through the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, on February 3, 2009, the Town of Atherton solicited written proposals from qualified consultants, firms, and consulting teams to provide opinion research survey and communication strategy consulting services to support the planning, development, marketing, implementation, and evaluation of public services and public policy programs for the Town. On February 17, 2009, the RFP process closed and three proposals for professional services were received. A comparison of the three proposals was completed and interviews scheduled for all three proposing groups. On March 9, 2009, the interview team consisted of Mayor Carlson and you. All candidates were allotted 45 minutes that included a 15-20 minute presentation with the balance of each interview answering questions regarding services provided based on their individual proposals. Further negotiations with each candidate resulted in reduced cost proposals to provide all services without focus groups. On March 10, I followed up with reference checks on the Consultants and reported back confirming the interview teams’ recommendation of GODBE Research, Inc. ANALYSIS: The Town may not use public funds to advocate for passage or defeat of a ballot measure. However, within the limits of state law, the Town may solicit public opinion on financing options and provide information that is needed for the voters to make informed decisions. All of the proposed consultants have assured the Town that they understand and abide by these legal principles. The RFP interview team has determined that the Town will benefit most by entering into a professional services agreement with GODBE Research, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $19,550.00. FISCAL IMPACT: The 2008-09 Budget does not include funding for a professional services agreement for Professional Opinion Research Survey and Communication Strategy Consulting Services. The agreement cost of $19,550.00 will need to be authorized at this time and included as a mid-year budget adjustment. The funding mechanism will be from the current Parcel Tax funds. ALTERNATIVES: 1) 2) 3) Accept the recommendation. Reject all proposals. Direct Staff to modify the scope of work and request new proposals.

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