Kansas City residents remain reasonably satisfied with their city, although the latest set of citizen surveys shows that satisfaction scores declined for street maintenance, police services and trash collection.
The surveys were administered quarterly between July 2015 and May 2016 by ETC Institute, the contractor since 2001. A total of 9,000 surveys were sent citywide, and 4,215 were completed.
For the sixth year in a row, satisfaction with the city’s image improved to 67 percent, compared with a national average of 63 percent for large cities. Sixty percent of respondents were satisfied with the overall quality of city services, compared with a national average of 49 percent.
Fifty-six percent of residents said they were satisfied with elected officials’ leadership, up from 39 percent in 2011-12.
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Perceptions remained relatively flat for metrics such as the quality of life, quality of city services, quality of fire and ambulance services, quality of neighborhood services and health. But they declined a few percentage points for police services, trash collection and quality of airport facilities.
As in previous years, street maintenance remains a high priority for residents and an area of very low satisfaction, with only one quarter of respondents saying they were satisfied with the condition of city streets.
The city does use the surveys to determine budget priorities. Last year, citizens reported significant dissatisfaction with bulky-item pickup and dangerous-building demolition, so those areas now are getting more attention in this year’s budget.
Satisfaction scores in Kansas City have improved steadily since 2011. Before then and especially during the recession and back to 2005, the scores were often dismal and routinely trailed those of peer cities and particularly the suburbs.
But now most scores are more in the middle of the pack and even above average among other cities that ETC measures.
In the 2015 survey, a solid majority of city residents said they were satisfied with local government services and their own quality of life.
Sometimes, however, Kansas City citizens’ mood and sense of the city’s image has little to do with municipal government’s performance. For example, a gain in scores was pegged to the Royals’ postseason performance, as the city’s data crunchers found in late 2014.
The entire 2016 citizen survey report is at https://data.kcmo.org/Government/Citizen-Survey-Report-FY2015-16/d2ce-9ida.