The unveiling of a pre-budget consultation survey by Sherbrooke Mayor Évelyne Beaudin on social media has led to discussions among the city’s officials. Municipal councillors Annie Godbout, Hélène Dauphinais, and Nancy Robichaud have voiced concerns about the survey’s nature and intent in an Oct. 30 press release.
Beaudin introduced the survey as a pre-budget consultation for the 2024 fiscal year. The survey is linked not directly to the city’s official channels but to the “Sherbrooke Citoyen” political party. This connection has generated discussions about the survey’s purpose, data access, and the transparency of the results.
Participants are required to answer sixteen demographic questions before delving into the budget-related inquiries. The nature of these initial questions has prompted some to speculate about the potential use of the collected data for political purposes.
Some officials noted that the survey might not provide an unbiased representation of the residents’ opinions. The multiple-choice questions in the survey often lack a “prefer not to answer” option. Moreover, several questions are framed around the party’s commitments and vision.
The survey includes questions that ask participants to make choices on potential tax increments or service cuts. One specific question gauges the level of support for a potential increase in municipal tax bills beyond a previously stated three per cent cap. The inclusion of such questions has led to discussions about the survey’s use to validate future fiscal decisions.
The independent councillors highlighted the need for a more transparent pre-budget consultation process. They recommend that a non-partisan, scientifically grounded survey be commissioned by the City of Sherbrooke. This initiative would ideally involve all elected city officials, ensuring a comprehensive representation of views.