The majority of Prairie Village residents are satisfied with city services and believe the city is moving in the right direction, according to the results of a community survey conducted this spring.
The Olathe-based ETC Institute, which collected survey responses from more than 700 Prairie Village households this spring, delivered the results to the City Council on Monday. It is the first formal polling of public opinion in the city in almost 20 years.
Jason Morado, a senior project manager with ETC, said 88 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the quality of city services, much higher than the Kansas City metro average of 56 percent and the national average of 49 percent.
Overall, respondents rated Prairie Village at or above the Kansas City metro average in all 52 areas assessed by the survey and rated it above the national average in 49 areas.
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The highest satisfaction scores were reported for police services (93 percent), followed by park services (91 percent) and a tie between maintenance of streets and other infrastructure and quality of trash collection (83 percent). The lowest level of satisfaction was for enforcement of city codes and ordinances (65 percent).
In total, 75 percent said they were satisfied with the value of services they received for the tax dollars. By comparison, 43 percent of metro area respondents and 38 percent of respondents nationally are satisfied with the value they received for the amount they paid in taxes and fees.
Over the next two years, residents said the city should focus on preserving the quality of police service and maintaining city streets and sidewalks.
As a place to live, 99 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Prairie Village, with 97 percent saying it was a good place to raise children. Ninety-six percent said they were satisfied with the city’s overall quality of life and 93 percent said they were satisfied with the city’s overall image.
Seventy-nine percent said Prairie Village was moving in the right direction, although only 63 percent were satisfied with how the city was planning growth.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the council’s leadership. Councilman Dan Runion noted that the council’s approval rating was roughly 20 percentage points higher the last time the city had ETC conduct the survey in 1999 and asked Morado about the decline.
Morado said it would be difficult to say, given the amount of time that has passed. He also said ETC has seen satisfaction with elected officials decline across the country in recent years, especially during the 2016 presidential election.
In addition to asking about more general areas of government, the survey also quizzed residents on issues that could influence city policy.
For example, 65 percent of respondents said it was important or very important for the city to invest in bicycle infrastructure. Council members earlier this month approved a new master plan for adding bike lanes, trails and sidewalks across the city and are considering setting aside $50,000 in next year’s budget to begin making that plan a reality.
Asked about arts funding, 50 percent of respondents supported allocating city dollars for the arts in Prairie Village while 33 percent said they were neutral to the idea and 17 percent said they didn’t think it was important.
Eighty percent said they supported the mayor and council members receiving some level of paid compensation for serving, an issue that Mayor Laura Wassmer and others on the board have advocated in recent years.
The mayor and 12 council members currently receive a symbolic $1 a year for their service on the board. Wassmer and others have suggested paying themselves a stipend, saying their official duties have exceeded the work of mere volunteers.
Last year, the council considered setting aside $63,000 for salaries but declined amid criticism that the idea required more debate and input from the public.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said they were concerned about the recent trend of people buying and tearing down older, smaller homes in Prairie Village and replacing them with much larger houses.
Complaints from neighbors of these new homes have led the council to consider numerous development restrictions.
Alley Porter, assistant to the city administration, said the council would make the full survey results available on the Prairie Village website, http://www.pvkansas.com.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve a new special-use permit for the Homestead Country Club at 6510 Mission Road. The property’s new owner, Dennis Hulsing, plans a series of upgrades to revitalize the 1950s-era club that filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and has struggled to remain open.
Council members also reviewed details of the proposed 2019 city budget. Spending on the general fund, which pays for most of Prairie Village’s operations, would increase 2 percent to $23.4 million, although the city’s tax rate would remain steady at 19.311 mills.
Assistant City Administrator Jamie Robichaud said the fee residents pay for trash pickup would increase 2.9 percent from $16 a month to $17.25 as the city ends a two-year subsidy it has paid on its contract with Republic Services.
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