In the 2017 National Citizen Survey, the city also took a hit in ratings on measures affected by the storm, like stormwater drainage and trash and debris pickup.
Palm Coast residents rate the city highly for its parks, greenery, safety and overall quality of life, but lower on economic measures and on certain infrastructure matters, including sidewalks and streetlights.
“I think the one thing that we need to work on is, again, the economy and employment opportunities,” City Councilman Steve Nobile said during a City Council discussion Feb. 13 about the city’s 2017 National Citizen Survey results. “That’s the one that rates high as far as importance to people, but low in its effectiveness.”
Of eight issue areas — safety, mobility, natural environment, built environment, economy, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment, and community engagement — residents selected safety and economy as most important. A total of 72% rated “overall feeling of safety” in the city positively, and 90% gave positive ratings for “safe in neighborhood,” while only 48% gave the city positive ratings on “overall economic health.”
Until 2016, the city held the National Citizen Survey every year since it was incorporated. In 2015, it opted to go to an every-other-year schedule, with an internet-based survey in the off years.
Residents’ ratings of some city services — like trash pickup and stormwater drainage — dropped significantly from 2015 to 2017, a change City Manager Jim Landon attributed to the fact that the 2017 survey was distributed shortly after Hurricane Irma hit.
“One of the lessons learned is: Don’t take a survey right after a hurricane, because obviously that’s what’s on people’s minds,” Landon said.
A total of 444 residents, a representative sample, took the survey after receiving it by mail. Another 574 residents took the survey online through an “opt-in” program, but their results didn’t undergo the statistical analysis of the 444 who received the survey by mail.
In a presentation of the survey results during the City Council’s Feb. 13 meeting, City Administration Coordinator Denise Bevan read off a list of all the ratings that dropped a statistically significant 7% or more from 2015 to 2017: Cost of living, place to visit, ease of walking, sidewalk maintenance, affordable quality housing, value of services for taxes paid, overall direction, garbage, recycling and yard waste pickup, storm drainage, sewer services, and street lighting.
“That list is very consistent with a lot of things City Council talks about — street lighting, drainage, sidewalks,” Landon said. “It’s very consistent, also, with what the media quite often talks about.”
Ratings in a number of areas improved: travel by car, traffic flow, police services, fire services, ambulance, EMS, employment opportunities, reflection on how the community feels the economy will have a positive impact income, and availability of high quality food choices.
This year, the city added several custom questions to the survey: which sources of information residents used during Hurricane Irma; how helpful those sources were; and did residents contact the city’s call center before, during or after the hurricane, and, if so, why.
In terms of information sources used, television was used by 70% of respondents, the Flagler County website by 52%, Facebook 49%, Flagler Broadcasting Radio (WNZF, Beach, Kix) 48%, the city website by 44%, CodeRED 36%, newspapers 32%, call centers (calling local governments) 19% and Twitter by 9%.
About 24% of respondents had contacted the city’s call center about the hurricane, with the highest numbers saying they had contacted the city about garbage and debris, power outages and trees.
View the full survey results HERE. The survey begins on page 5.