City of Sequim residents are generally satisfied with how operations are going, according to results from a customer satisfaction survey.
Ron Vine, a market researcher and vice president of ETC Institute, shared the results Monday, Aug. 22, from 430 randomly selected residents. The city’s goal was to receive 300 surveys. Vine said receiving more surveys shows a lot of interest from the community and that the survey was well-written.
Some city councilors said they were surprised by a few results, including a lower than expected amount of support for building a “new city hall for better customer service.”
When choosing potential capital improvement projects to complete, residents were 35 percent “somewhat to very supportive” of the city hall idea compared to 84 percent for improving streets and 77 percent for reducing traffic congestion.
Vine said it’s common for residents who have lived in an area longer to support reducing traffic congestion as a top priority.
Mayor Ken Hays said his first reaction to the results was for the city to continue seeking out a site for a new city hall.
“Maybe we need to do more public information on that,” Hays said.
Laura Dubois, mayor pro-tem, suggested doing more public education on what the city is paying for rental space.
“That could show (residents) that city hall is a good investment,” she said.
Councilors have set finding a site for a new city hall as one of their goals for the past two years.
Ninety-one percent of residents said Sequim is a “good to excellent” place to live and 75 percent said it’s “good to excellent” for raising children.
However, just 48 percent of residents said it’s a “good to excellent” place to shop and 44 percent said it’s “good to excellent” to work in.
Forty-three percent “agree” or “strongly agree” the city is going in the right direction; 34 percent feel neutral and 23 percent “disagree to strongly disagree.”
More felt neutral (48 percent) about the efforts of city leaders than satisfied (24 percent) or dissatisfied (19 percent).
A majority felt the value of service for tax dollars was favorable: 43 percent said it is average, 28 percent good, 5 percent excellent, with 9 percent “don’t know,” 5 percent “poor” and 10 percent “below average.”
Traffic is becoming worse according to 50 percent of surveys but 28 percent said it’s the same and 11 percent said it has improved.
When asked what councilors should address traffic-wise in two years, 41 percent of residents chose easing travel east/west in Sequim, 38 percent citing it as one of their top two projects, whereas 18 percent chose north/south travel in Sequim.
Vine’s assessment that people traditionally are more satisfied with police and least with code enforcement and road maintenance held mostly true in Sequim.
The highest satisfaction was with police services: 79 percent said they are “satisfied to very satisfied.” People were least satisfied with land use planning and regulations, with 31 percent “satisfied to very satisfied” and 37 percent “dissatisfied.”
Residents chose police services as the most important service in Sequim, with city water and wastewater services second and land use and planning third, despite its poor rating.
Most people feel safe in their homes during the day with a 94-percent “safe to very safe” rating.
Seventy-six percent said they feel safe in parks and on trails. The lowest marks for the police department came with 56 percent feeling “satisfied to very satisfied” with drug law enforcement.
Police Chief Bill Dickinson spoke to the Gazette after the presentation, saying the results aren’t surprising.
“We really have great police officers who police (Sequim) like it is their community,” Dickinson said.
He said smaller communities rate police high because of the personal approach many officers take in their duties.
City Manager Steve Burkett said he was pleased with results of customer satisfaction between staff and residents because of new goals to increase those rates. Of those surveyed, 86 percent felt “satisfied to very satisfied” with how they were treated and 72 percent felt favorably about how their issues were handled.
“The whole goal is to continuously improve,” Burkett said about all the results.
This survey is one of two conducted by ETC for the city. The results of the parks and recreation survey are scheduled for release Sept. 26 at the city council meeting.
Vine guarantees 600 surveys for the parks and recreation survey with at least 300 from within the city limits and 300 within the Sequim School District boundaries. Both the surveys have an allocation for up to $30,000.
Councilors Erik Erichsen and Bill Huizinga said they received citizen feedback that the survey was not indicative of the people and more of the city’s viewpoints. Huizinga said he didn’t agree but felt neutral about the results.
Information from the survey might be used for 2012 budget planning.