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The Results are In: Citizen Satisfaction With Local Government Continues to Rise; Growth Remains Top Concern

Post Date:02/15/2002
CARY, NC – The results are in from the Town of Cary’s biennial citizen survey which gave a group of Cary residents the opportunity to voice their opinions on their government and community. Topics on the 50-item telephone survey ranged from Town employees’ customer service and public safety to services for seniors, quality of life, and taxes. This was the third town-sponsored survey aimed at the broad range of tasks and issues handled each day by the town.

"We’re very happy with our continued high ratings and improvements," said Town Manager Bill Coleman. Twelve grades improved in the two years since the last survey while 14 grades remained unchanged. Only two grades decreased, with one of these going from an "A+" to an "A". "We are constantly exploring ways to work smarter and be more responsive, and it’s good to know that our citizens feel good about Cary, about the services they receive, and about the people who provide those services."

IMPORTANT ISSUES:

Problems related to rapid growth remain the most important issue in Cary, mentioned over 178 times (200 times in 2000) by the respondents. This was followed by traffic/roads (108), the need for new schools/education (35), water issues (24), and over-development (11). Obviously, these areas are peripheral issues related to the larger issue of managing growth and are very similar to the ones mentioned in the 2000 survey. The biggest difference is that traffic/roads now rates second and water issues drops from second to fourth.

MANAGING GROWTH:

Respondents see Cary’s efforts to manage growth as still needing improvement but improving significantly since 2000, rating the Town’s efforts at managing growth on a nine-point scale from "1-very poor" to "9-excellent".

Cary’s Efforts to Manage Growth (1-9 scale)

Year

Mean

% Above 5

Grade

00

4.90

39.2

F

02

6.02

61.3

D+

LIVING IN CARY

: Despite concerns over growth, Cary citizens feel good about their community.

Living in Cary (averages, 1-9 scale)

Year

Overall as a Place to Live

How Well Cary Maintains Streets & Roads

Operation/
Management of Cary

Parks, Rec, Cultural Program Quality

How Safe do you Feel?

98

7.61

6.04

6.46

7.85

7.55

00

7.63

6.50

6.95

7.97

7.93

02

7.79

6.72

7.11

8.01

7.99

The quality of life for Cary residents over the past two years was specifically assessed with five-point scale, with most respondents seeing the quality of life in Cary as "the same" over the past two years. However, there has been a positive slant. Note the mean of 3.18 in 2002 is an increase over the 2000 mean of 3.05. Higher

means indicate perceptions of an improvement in the quality of life. In 2002, more respondents indicated the quality of life is "much better" (7.5% versus 4.4%) or "somewhat better" (23.9% versus 22.0%).

Quality of Life in Cary

 

Year

 

Mean

Much Worse

1

Somewhat Worse

2

The Same

3

Somewhat Better

4

Much Better

5

% Above 3

00

3.05

1.6

22.8

49.2

22.0

4.4

26.4

02

3.18

1.0

18.6

49.0

23.9

7.5

31.4

TAXES

: A majority (69.5%) of the respondents continues to feel that Cary’s tax rate is "about right". The survey examined the Cary municipal tax rate of .42 per $100 of property valuation as compared to other localities (Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and Durham). A five-point scale was used. The response categories were "very low", "somewhat low", "about right", "somewhat high", and "very high".

TOWN STAFF

: Respondents appear to continue to be satisfied with their interactions with Town staff. In assessing residents’ perception of Cary Town Government staff, respondents who had contact with staff in the last two years were asked to grade staff on specific behaviors on a scale of 1-9 with 9 being an "extremely high" rating:

Town Government Staff (averages, 1-9 scale)

Year

Promptness

Professionalism

Knowledgeable

Courteous

Ability to Resolve Issues

98

7.26/B-

7.32/B-

7.30/B-

7.63/B

6.77/C

00

7.45/B-

7.73/B

7.70/B

7.98/B+

7.12/C+

02

7.32/B-

7.55/B

7.44/B-

7.81/B+

7.06/C+

FOR SENIORS:

The survey again explored Cary’s services to its senior citizens. One question asked respondents to rate the Town’s efforts at providing senior citizen services in the past two years. A nine-point scale from "very poor" (1) to "excellent" (9) was used.

Cary’s Efforts to Provide Services to Senior Citizens over the Past Two Years

Year

Mean

% Above 5

00

6.39

70.8

02

7.03

77.3

Perhaps the key indicator for this question is the grade given by the older respondents. The marks from these groups were good including a B- from the 56-65 age group, a B- from the 66-75 age group, and a B+ for the over 75 age group

VOTING:

After having continued low voter turnout in local elections, Town officials included for the first time questions in the survey examining the voting behavior of respondents with a focus on improving turnout. Non-voters said that the overriding reason for low voter turnout is the lack of information on the process, whether it be about the candidates, why voting behavior is important, or dates/times/locations for voting.

In a separate question all respondents were asked how they felt specific initiatives would impact voter turnout. Responses showed that online voting was far and away the initiatives that would have the most impact. This was followed by more information about elections in advancehelping citizens see the importance of voting, and better candidates.

Impact of Initiatives to Increase Voter Turnout (In Order of Impact)

 

Initiatives to increase voter turnout

 

Mean

 

% Above 5

Online voting

7.19

79.5

More information about elections in advance

6.21

63.1                  

Helping citizens see the importance of voting

6.05

59.9

Better candidates

5.86

49.8

More times or days to vote

5.81

56.0

Improving the way campaigns are financed

5.52

48.0

More conveniently located polling places

4.55

32.8 

Other questions on the survey explored and evaluated information sources, communication between the Town and citizens, and citizen participation as well as specific questions on the Police, and Fire departments, recreation programs, transit, and recycling. The full survey report is available on the town’s Web site, www.townofcary.org.

A total of 407 Cary households were randomly selected for the survey and interviewed by telephone from January 5 -18, 2002. Just like Gallup, Nielsen, and other national and international pollsters, consultants for the town utilized scientifically developed sampling techniques and statistical analysis that allow the survey results to be generalized over the entire population even though not everyone in Cary was called. The margin of error for the 2002 survey was +/- 5 percent.

As a follow-up to the survey, the town plans to conduct several focus groups later this year. These focus groups will provide an opportunity for the town and selected citizens to discuss specific issues in greater detail.

Cary contracted with BKL Research of Salem, VA to conduct the study (survey and focus groups) at a cost of $19,100. 

 

PRIMARY CONTACTS:
Bill Coleman, Town Manager, (919) 469-4002
Susan Moran, Public Information Officer, (919) 460-4951

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