At Monday night’s council meeting, city officials presented results from the recent customer service survey for Marysville. The 39-question survey covered areas like safety, parks and recreation, city utilities and the overall quality of life and services in the city. (Photo submitted)
While Marysville presented its State of the City Address at Monday night’s city council meeting, officials also took time to listen to the residents.
Human Resources Director Brian Dostanko presented the results of a recent survey on city services.
“I think the best entity to tell you how your service is, is the customers themselves,” Dostanko said.
The 39-question survey was created in Survey Monkey with a link sent to a variety of groups, posted on city social media outlets and distributed through a utility billing insert.
The city received more than 1,000 survey responses from residents or individuals who work in the city.
“That is the best sample size we have had in our survey history,” Dostanko said, noting that city officials were hoping for 500 responses. He explained that bigger the sample, the more accurate the information is.
He added that, “hopefully in the future, 1,000 may be the norm and who knows, maybe we can get towards 2,000.”
Residents in Ward 1 led the way with nearly 26% of the surveys coming from that area. Nearly 20% of the respondents said they work in but do not live in the city.
More than half of respondents were ages 31-50. Dostanko said just 9.77% of respondents were 18-30. He called that number, “surprisingly low, given how it was marketed.”
“We’d recommend some research into how to reach younger citizens,” Dostanko said, suggesting a possible free pool pass as an enticement.
According to the survey, 26.6% of residents are very satisfied with the quality of life in Marysville with another 56.5% saying they are satisfied. Just 3.1% say they are dissatisfied with the quality of life in the city.
Dostanko said the question he was “looking for the most” dealt with the overall quality of services provided by the city.
According to survey results, 22.3% of respondents are very satisfied and 53.1% are satisfied with the overall quality of city services. According to the survey, 4.5% of respondents say they are dissatisfied with the quality of provided services.
Top areas of satisfaction included interactions with police, overall quality of life in Marysville, the city as a place to raise children, the overall feeling of safety, community policing practices, overall quality of services provided by the city, Marysville as a place to work, response to 911 calls and the location of city fire stations.
Dostanko said police and fire divisions account for five of the top 10 scores with the overall feeling of safety ranked fifth. He said those ratings were not a surprise to administration and likely were not a surprise to council.
The lowest customer satisfaction score was in response to the cost of water, sewer and storm water. In the survey, more than 40% of respondents found the rates unsatisfactory.
“Many of you council members have heard this over the years from your constituents so there is no surprise here,” Dostanko told council.
He said “one significant high end item” was the cost of utilities with the overall quality of water service, “a very distant second” with 17% of residents finding the water quality unsatisfactory.
Other areas with high responses of dissatisfied or unsatisfactory ratings included traffic and congestion management, overall value for city income tax, overall quality of new development and growth, the city as a place to retire, enforcement of the maintenance and exterior maintenance of rental and commercial properties, enforcement of debris clean up on private properties, enforcement of exterior maintenance of residential homes and enforcing the mowing and cutting of weeds on private property.
“When I have looked at other cities that have deployed surveys like this, in those other cities you don’t see even the bottom 10 being this low, below 20% (dissatisfied or unsatisfactory),” Dostanko said. “It is still areas of opportunity for us to improve, but the ratings are not that high.”
Dosanko identified ways to improve several of the low scoring items.
“If we are going to ask the question, we have got to be prepared for the answer and do something about it,” Dostanko said.
City officials recognize that several of the items respondents were most unsatisfied about dealt with how other residents managed their property. Dostanko said officials may want to consider hiring another code enforcement officer. The position is identified as a potential hire for 2024, but Dostanko said council could consider moving that to 2022 or even late 2021.
Councilman J.R. Rausch said it is important to “balance what we should be doing versus people’s property rights.”
He said residents’ dissatisfaction could be about the city going too far in dictating how personal property is managed.
Council Member Donald Boerger said he thinks many people want more enforcement.
“The majority of Marysville, people realize there is a lot of areas we need to do better,”
The city’s strategic plan establishes this survey be utilized every two years. Council members questioned whether the survey would be helpful each year.
Dostanko said the survey is intensive to create. Additionally, there needs to be time for officials to respond to areas of need.
“Every two years, in my opinion, is still pretty aggressive,” Dostanko said.
Council President Mark Reams urged council members to look more deeply at the survey and consider it as they finalize the city’s strategic plan.