About the Author
Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Austinites pleased with just about everything — except traffic
The results are in: Most Austinites are really happy with where they live.
In the 2011 edition of the City’s Annual Community Survey, citizens from all areas of the city gave Austin high ratings for its quality of life, said they think it’s a really swell place to work and raise their kids, and said they are happy with most – but not all – of the major services provided by the city.
And, in general, Austin residents are much happier with their city than are the residents of a number of similar-sized cities across the country.
The Annual Community Survey reports on how the citizens of Austin view the effectiveness of their city government and how it is doing delivering services. It is also used by city staff as a barometer of the taxpayers’ priorities on budget, policy, and social issues.
The 2011 survey results provided no real surprises, rating the city fairly high in most categories, such as airport operations, public safety services, water and wastewater services, and libraries, while respondents dinged the city for a few items, mainly land development services and how it handles traffic on its major streets.
The survey – performed by ETC Institute, an Olathe, Kansas-based market research firm – also reflected how the city’s ratings stack up against other similar-size cities.
Other than service at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (84 percent overall), the highest level of satisfaction was with the city’s public safety services, at 79 percent overall. Responses of “Very Satisfied” or “Satisfied” among residents were given to: overall quality of fire services (89 percent), the timeliness of fire response to emergencies (87 percent), medical assistance provided by EMS (86 percent), and the timeliness of EMS response to an emergency location (85 percent). Residents were least satisfied with the enforcement of local traffic laws (62 percent).
Citizens also expressed high levels of satisfaction with environmental services, including the city’s energy conservation program (65 percent), flood control efforts (65 percent), and water conservation programs (64 percent).
Recreation and cultural services also received high marks (74 percent overall), specifically the cleanliness of library facilities (80 percent), the number of city parks (75 percent), library programs (72 percent), materials at libraries (72 percent), and the quality of parks and recreation programs (70 percent).
The survey also took Austin’s pulse over what services are most important. To almost no one’s surprise, residents ranked public safety (police, fire, and EMS) tops, at 58 percent. The rest of the top 5 included the quality of drinking water, maintenance of streets and sidewalks, health and human services programs, and electric services.
According to the survey, all of those high ratings set Austin apart from other cities its size across the country. Overall satisfaction with city services was ranked No. 1 among 13 cities with populations greater than 500,000, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York, San Diego, Indianapolis, San Jose, Houston, and Detroit. In addition, Austin rated at or above the national average for cities with a population of more than 250,000 in 41 of the 46 areas that were assessed.
In performing the survey, ETC Institute mailed surveys to a random sample of 3,000 households in the city; a total of 1,339 were completed. According to ETC, the results have a 2.7 percent margin of error.
To read the full report, and to find an archive of surveys going back to 2003, go to http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/budget/citizensurvey.htm.
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