Kansas City residents are more satisfied than they have been in a long time with the city’s quality of life and with important public services. But the most recent citizen survey also reveals plenty of room for improvement.
Mayor Sly James and other city officials preferred last week to look at the sunny side. Most notably, citizens are giving more enthusiastic thumbs up to the quality of public safety, parks and recreation programs, and even street maintenance — which is often the top priority on these surveys.
However, Kansas City still has a ways to go in matching satisfaction levels attained in some of its Midwestern big-city peers and in its suburbs.
For example, Kansas City’s overall satisfaction rating of 82 percent for fire protection and rescue services was the lowest among eight peer cities, including Des Moines, Tulsa, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. The police satisfaction rating of 66 percent was second lowest. Kansas City’s parks and recreation satisfaction rating of 64 percent was ninth best among 15 peer cities measured.
Unfortunately, Kansas City also had lower citizen satisfaction rankings than the average compiled by metropolitan area cities and counties on all eight major categories of city services.
From quality of police services to customer service from city workers to code enforcement in neighborhood programs, Kansas City lagged many local communities that compete with it for residents and jobs.
The city also was markedly behind area cities on snow removal, street maintenance and sidewalk conditions.
The new report did highlight the fact that Kansas City is moving in the right direction “when satisfaction levels in other U.S. cities remain about the same.” That’s encouraging, even as it shows just how big of a hole city officials had created for themselves in the past.