Every few years the City contracts with someone to conduct a statistically valid survey of residents to determine how we are doing in the delivery of our services. This week, the results of the most recent survey were presented to the Mayor and City Council. This week’s post provides a glimpse at what we learned.
Everything is Important
Not all that surprisingly, nearly every service provided by the City was evaluated as important by respondents. The most important? Public Safety - Police, Fire, and EMS services ranked the highest. Slightly less important? Parks and trails, along with animal control, were identified as facilities slightly less important. It is, in part, for this reason – the indication that “everything is important,” that we ask the Council each year to prioritize our focus. With regard to the City’s seven areas of strategic importance, currently the Council ranks funding for Education as the most important, followed by Public Safety, Human Services, Infrastructure and so on, which is pretty consistent with how things settled out in the survey results.
Where We are Doing Well and Where There Could Be Improvement
As with any inquiry that asks how one is doing, there are bound to be areas where things are going well and areas where there could be improvement. Our work is no different. Areas where survey respondents indicated we are doing well include public safety, libraries, pick up of trash, parks and trails, and animal control. Areas where respondents said we could improve include sidewalks, street paving, stormwater management, and events offered at the Berglund Center. Most important are those areas where respondents indicated the service was very important and where either we are doing well or where there could be improvement. Again, public safety, libraries, and trash collection stand atop the rankings for importance and satisfaction. Sidewalks and street paving are two areas ranked very important and where improvement is warranted.
Where Have We Been Improving
There are a couple of areas we have been focusing on over the past several years to improve our performance and thereby your satisfaction. Notable areas include youth and social services, which have seen double-digit increases in satisfaction over previous surveys. Another area where improvement has been seen is removal of snow and ice from City streets. Perhaps the most rewarding responses were those indicating how safe folks felt in their neighborhoods and downtown. Most respondents stated they felt very or somewhat safe in their neighborhoods (African Americans 98% and Caucasians 87%). Likewise, most stated they felt very or somewhat safe in downtown (African Americans 96% and Caucasians 84%).
There is a great deal more information contained in the presentation made to the Council and in the Executive Summary, which are posted on the City’s website. These results, combined with the Council’s Strategic Plan and the annual Performance Indicators and Measures report shape the annual budget proposal presented to Council for public hearing and adoption. The budget development process and the proposed budget will be the subject of my next two posts.
-- Bob Cowell