The 20-page document is called the City of Concord 2014 Community Priorities Survey. It's filled with numbers and graphs that show which services residents most value and how well they think they're delivered.
Two of the starkest contrasts: Street maintenance ranks among residents' highest priorities -- but among the lowest in resident satisfaction. Gang prevention is a top public safety issue -- but one of the worst in perceived execution.
Still, nearly 80 percent of residents rank their quality of life as "excellent" or "good." Nearly 83 percent are "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" overall. More than 84 percent envision the next five years in Concord being as good as or better than now.
Surveys such as this, which rank everything from street-sweeping to neighborhood parks, almost always carry a thinly veiled message: All of these services cost money, and somebody must pay for them. With the community needs now ranked and charted, residents can fairly assume that the next item for discussion by the City Council will be whether to ask voters to extend a half-cent sales tax measure due to expire in 2016.
The additional revenues ($10.6 million in 2012-13) generated by Measure Q, which voters passed in 2010, have kept the city afloat during dire economic times. They filled budget gaps and even added to the city's reserves. But recent projections indicate that without that income Concord will be wading in red ink by 2022.
Should residents brace for Measure Q, Part II?
"Based on our budget report and 10-year plan," Mayor Tim Grayson said, "it looks like this is something the council needs to consider putting in the hands of the voters."
The first measure won 54 percent of the vote from an understanding electorate at a time when the city had slashed staff and services. It came with a five-year sunset. But a sunset isn't really a sunset if the council keeps trying to extend it.
However a new proposal is presented -- another "sunset," perhaps -- opponents are certain to ask why this time will be any different from last. They may even wonder if the underlying goal is to keep the measure alive until it's a permanent fixture.
There are other misgivings, such as the lifetime medical benefits given elected officials after five years. If the city is so hard up for money, why not save it by ending that perk? Then there's the 2013 salary increases given employees represented by Teamsters Local 856 -- 2.5 percent immediately and annual step increases on anniversary dates after that. If Concord can afford to give pay hikes, why does it need more taxes?
"You can call those raises, but they were really givebacks from take-aways before," Grayson said. "Those workers still haven't recovered from what they lost in earlier contracts. They're on the negative side even now."
The mayor thinks the public will support an extension because of how prudently the city used Measure Q funds to keep essential services in place. He believes good stewardship will be rewarded.
I'm less certain support will be automatic. Residents banded together last time because they were told a five-year lifeline was all that was needed. If that promise proved wrong, why would a new one be any more reliable?
A measure must be filed by Aug. 8 to get on the November ballot. This hot potato is now in the council's court.
Contact Tom Barnidge at firstname.lastname@example.org.