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Cary Citizens Give Cary Town Government its Best Ratings in 20 Years

Biennial citizen satisfaction survey yields high marks for services and quality of life; transportation, growth and schools remain most important issues facing Cary

Post Date:05/11/2018 2:30 PM
  • A scientific survey polled 401 Cary citizens and asked 35 core questions on topics relating to Cary, including safety, appearance, customer service and quality of life.
  • While earning high marks in service, Cary citizens revealed the most pressing issues facing the community are growth, transportation and schools.
  • Focus groups will be conducted later this year to probe specific survey findings in greater detail.




Full Release


Cary, NC – In the history of Cary’s Biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Cary citizens this year awarded its government operations the highest yet, with none of the six service dimensions falling below a B+ rating. The survey gave a group of Cary citizens the opportunity to rate their government and community on 35 core questions covering topics like safety, appearance, Town employee customer service and quality of life. The Town uses this scientific poll to help provide guidance on where it might make changes to enhance Cary citizens’ quality of life.

Specifically, the service dimensions were rated as follows:


Service Dimension




Overall Quality of Customer Service








Promptness of Responses



“The survey is an incredible wealth of information about what’s important to our community, their satisfaction with our programs and services, and the job we’re doing to help keep Cary great by achieving the vision of our Imagine Cary Community Plan,” said Town Manager Sean R. Stegall.

The 2018 survey also revealed that:

  • The Cary Fire Department continues to earn the highest marks for any department examined by the survey (A+)
  • The Cary Police Department and Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources Department improved its ratings, from a B+ to A- and A- to A, respectively.
  • Nine out of ten citizens (97.1%) believe that the quality of life in Cary has remained the same or improved over the past two years.
  • Nearly 90% of those surveyed have visited downtown Cary in the past year, up from 80% in 2016, with restaurants and shopping being the biggest attractions.
  • Over 97% have a positive perception of safety in Cary, including in public places.
  • About 97% agree that it’s important to give back to their community.
  • Nine out of 10 citizens (90.5%) are registered voters, and more than half of them (56.6%) voted in the 2017 local elections.
  • The most important issues identified by Cary citizens are growth, transportation and schools.

“The results couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Stegall, who was able to consider the findings in preparing his recommended budget for the coming year.

One specific example is Stegall’s proposal to raise the annual vehicle license fee from $15 to $30 to improve street maintenance. As part of the 2018 survey, citizens cited potholes and rough pavement as the biggest reasons why Cary streets needed attention. In the history of the Biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey, citizens have never rated Cary’s street maintenance at higher than a C+.

This is the twelfth consecutive time the Town has conducted its biennial survey, which started in 1998. This year, a total of 401 Cary citizens were randomly selected for the survey and interviewed by telephone (listed, unlisted and mobile phone numbers) from March 3 to March 25. Just like Gallop, Nielsen and other 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 is called. The margin of error for this survey was +/- 4.89%

As a follow-up to the survey, the Town plans to conduct focus groups later this year. Comprised of randomly selected participants of the telephone survey, these focus groups will provide an opportunity for the Town to probe specific survey findings in greater detail.

The Town contracted with BKL Research of Salem, VA to conduct the study (survey and focus group) at a cost of $38,236. Representatives from BKL made a formal presentation of the findings at the May 10, 2018 quarterly meeting of Town Council and staff.

Find the full survey report at


Primary Contacts

Susan Moran, Chief of Strategic Communications, (919) 460-4951

Sean R. Stegall, Town Manager, (919) 469-4007

Deanna Hawkes, Deputy Public Information Officer, (919) 380-4240


2018 Biennial Survey Executive Summary

2018 Biennial Survey Full Report

FY18 Quarter 3 Report

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