Survey results to help city prioritize budget - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

Survey results to help city prioritize budget

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 6:15 am

Confidence in Chandler city leaders and a belief in sound financial decision from the city council were the major takeaways from the city’s recent citizen budget survey.

The city is a safe place to live, has well-maintained parks, safe drinking water and a quality return on taxes, all received favorable returns for the small sample size of those who completed the survey.

According to the city, Chandler’s estimated population was 243,694 on Feb. 1. A total of 747 people responded to the survey, which focused on issues related to the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, but also solicited feedback on the performance of the municipal government and the community’s quality of life.

The survey results and other public feedback will help the mayor Jay Tibshraeny and the city council develop budgetary priorities for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

“This annual citizens’ survey has proven to be one of the most valuable resources available to the city council as we develop the final budget and capital improvement program,” Tibshraeny said. “We value the opinions of our residents, and we will use their input to help set our service priorities for the coming fiscal year. I believe this year’s results show that a large majority of Chandler residents agree that the city is being run in an efficient and fiscally responsible manner.”

The city’s budget office developed the survey, which was conducted primarily online from Dec. 9 to Jan. 24. A total of 736 responses were received through the city website and 11 paper copies were submitted. The complete survey results are available at chandleraz.gov/budget.

Ninety-nine percent of respondents rated the city government’s performance as “satisfactory” or better, and 1 out 5 responders gave an “excellent” rating.

When asked if the responded gets a “great return” on her or her tax dollar, approximately 89 percent agreed.

Chandler’s quality of life was rated “excellent” by 51 percent of respondents and “very good” by 46 percent, a combined total of 97 percent for the two highest categories.

“The question about our quality of life was new this year, and I think most people would agree that the high marks reflect extremely well on Chandler’s leadership, our employees and the level of services the city provides,” said Greg Westrum, the city’s budget manager.

Another first-year question regarding services and tax levels yielded an interesting response, Westrum said. The majority of respondents, 72 percent, prefer to maintain municipal service and tax levels. Only 18 percent supported paying for an increase in services with higher taxes, while seven percent would like to see taxes lowered along with services.

“It’s not surprising that there is a general aversion to higher taxes,” Westrum said. “But it is somewhat surprising that there is such limited support for the city providing additional services.”

One section of the survey provided participants with several positive statements about the city and asked whether the respondent agreed or disagreed. The statements are listed below, along with the combined percentage of respondents who “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed with each statement:

• Chandler is a safe place to live: 98.7 percent “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed.

• Chandler offers plenty of events for children and families: 97.0 percent.

• Chandler parks are well maintained: 95.3 percent.

• Chandler has safe drinking water: 90.1 percent.

• Chandler provides a great return on tax dollars: 89.0 percent.

• Chandler does a good job of keeping residents informed of programs, services and upcoming events: 88.3 percent.

• Chandler’s airport is good for the City: 85.4 percent.

• Chandler’s downtown is a great destination: 85.7 percent.

• Chandler offers plenty of programs for senior citizens: 84.8 percent.

Most of the remaining questions on the survey asked residents to rate the importance of specific programs, services and capital improvement projects.

The results indicate strong support for the city council’s emphasis in recent years to maintain existing infrastructure and to complete arterial street projects and neighborhood parks in southeast Chandler as quickly as possible.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or cgabel@evtrib.com.

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