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City survey: Austinites’ satisfaction up

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Austinites have expressed a very high level of satisfaction with city services, with overall satisfaction 21 percent higher than the national average for cities with a population of more than 500,000, Chief Performance Officer Kimberly Olivares told Council at Tuesday’s work session.

Compared to 2017, the city saw a particularly large jump in Austinites’ satisfaction with libraries and an overall decline in satisfaction with medical assistance provided by EMS, according to the annual survey. Austinites surveyed also expressed dissatisfaction with traffic flow on major highways as well as city streets. Olivares told the Austin Monitor that EMS officials were studying the survey to see what else they could learn about the dissatisfaction.

Olivares told Council that the survey asked the same questions in 2018 as it did in previous surveys, but the survey was reorganized to be in alignment with the city’s strategic goals. She said 2,261 people completed the surveys, with a minimum of 200 surveys completed in each of the 10 Council districts.

Olivares said overall satisfaction with city services did not vary much from one Council district to another, with overall satisfaction at 64.8 percent. She said the highest level of satisfaction was found in District 9, at 69.4 percent. But that is not significantly different than the overall satisfaction level in District 1, she said, which came in at 67.3 percent.

The survey dashboard shows how respondents from each Council district answered questions about various city programs. For example, on a question about how well the city is planning for growth, 20.4 percent of respondents said they were satisfied – although that is better than last year’s response, Olivares said. But only 17.3 percent of those surveyed in District 5 said they were satisfied with the city’s planning for growth, compared to 62.2 percent who said they were dissatisfied.

In District 2, 25 percent of respondents said they were satisfied, compared to 51.4 percent who said they were not satisfied. And 26.4 percent of respondents in District 3 said they were satisfied, with 58.2 percent of respondents saying they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, leaving fewer respondents neutral on the topic.

The same company, ETC Institute, has been surveying Austin residents about their satisfaction level in various areas since 2012, Olivares said.

According to the survey, Austin saw an overall increase in satisfaction with a number of programs, including Shots for Tots; library materials; city efforts to promote small, minority- and/or women-owned businesses; parks facilities; overall management of stormwater runoff and flood control efforts.

Residents surveyed were less satisfied than they were in 2017 about city swimming pools, enforcement of local traffic laws, overall quality of wastewater services, cleanliness of city streets and public areas, timing of traffic signals, and overall quality of police services.

Those surveyed had only a 13 percent satisfaction level on questions about traffic flow on major city streets, but most other large cities have similar problems, with the national average satisfaction on traffic flow at just 25 percent.

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