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News Review
Survey Tracks Resident Satisfaction with City Services, Local Government
Posted Date: 2/13/2013
A recent survey of Plymouth residents brought good news. Residents are pleased with the quality of life in the community, happy with city services and feel safe. The survey also revealed that Plymouth has a significantly greater proportion of “boosters” than most suburban communities.
 
The survey, the first that the city has commissioned in eight years, quizzed respondents about everything from satisfaction with municipal services to city taxes and city communications.
 
The telephone survey of 400 randomly selected residents has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent. Conducted by Minneapolis-based polling firm Decision Resources between Aug. 28 and Sept. 20, the survey included both landline and cell phone-only households. The non-response rate was less than three percent.
 
Plymouth has worked with Decision Resources since the 1980s to periodically conduct resident surveys. Using Decision Resources, which conducts local government surveys in many metropolitan communities, allows city officials to track resident satisfaction over time, as well as learn how Plymouth stacks up against other cities, according to Helen LaFave, communications manager.
 
Quality of Life
Residents rate the quality of life in the community among the highest in the metropolitan area, according to Bill Morris of Decision Resources. Quality of life was rated as excellent or good by 97 percent of the respondents, with 75 percent saying it was excellent and 22 percent giving it a good rating.
 
Plymouth, which has traditionally earned high marks for quality of life, saw a large shift in the percentage of residents describing the quality of life as excellent rather than good. The percent of excellent ratings doubled from 37 in 2004 to 75 in 2012.
 
The jump was remarkable, according to Morris. “This is the most impressive change we’ve had since we started the company,” he said. “The ‘good’ ratings were down, but of course we expect that (with the higher ‘excellent’ ratings). Only 1 percent rated the quality of life as fair. No one thought it was poor,” he added.
 
The ‘excellent’ quality of life rating puts Plymouth among the top three communities in the metropolitan area, with Plymouth keeping company with Edina at 90 percent excellent and St. Louis Park at 77 percent.
 
Morris added that the difference between the top three communities’ excellent ratings and the next group of cities is a difference of 20 points. “And, I wouldn’t call them (the second group of cities) the also-rans,” he said. He noted that those cities were doing very well to earn excellent ratings from 50 percent of their respondents.
 
Like Most About Community
When asked an open-ended question about what they like most about Plymouth, responses were somewhat scattered, according to Morris. Location (28 percent) topped the list, followed by neighborhoods (19 percent) and schools (12 percent) with “friendly people” and “safe” tying for fourth (nine percent).
 
Most Serious Issue
The most common issues that residents cited when asked about the most serious issue facing Plymouth were “growth” (18 percent) and “high taxes” (14 percent). “More impressive, however, is the 22 percent who see ‘no serious issues’ facing the community. This percentage of ‘boosters’ is one of the highest in the metropolitan area and is almost four times higher than the suburban norm,” according to Morris.
 
City Services & Taxes
City services were consistently rated positively, and residents feel they are getting a good value for their city tax dollars. On average, a solid 90 percent rate the quality of city services as either excellent or good. This places Plymouth’s service rating among the top three cities in the metro and the highest in western Hennepin County.
 
Core services, with the exception of street maintenance, receive positive ratings above 90 percent from residents able to rate the service. In the case of pavement repair and patching, positive ratings outnumber negative ratings by a lower margin of 70 to 30 percent. Again, Morris noted that street repair numbers, while lower, still compared well to other suburbs, which have a norm of 55 percent negative to 45 percent positive.
 
Morris said a moderate 40 percent view city taxes as “high” while 42 percent see them as “average.” But, 80 percent think the value that they receive in the quality of city services is at least “good” when compared to the property taxes that they pay.
 
He added that solid majorities of at least 75 percent want to keep funding for city services at current levels, and the maximum level of residents wanting to eliminate any one service is one percent.
 
Other Findings
Eighty-seven percent feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night. The feeling of safeness is among the highest in the metropolitan area suburbs.
 
Ninety-seven percent of those having opinions give positive ratings to neighborhood and community parks and trails. A very high 96 percent think the current mix of recreation and sports facilities meets the needs of household members, according to Morris.
 
Sixty-four percent feel they know a great deal or fair amount about the mayor and council and their work, double the 31 percent norm in the metro. 

Eighty-one percent approve of the job the mayor and council are doing, tying for the highest rating in the metro.
 
Seventy-two percent feel that they can have a say in local government with 24 percent saying they do not. “It’s very rare to see a ‘no’ number below 30 percent these days,” Morris said.
 
In answering an open-ended question, Plymouth residents continue to point to the city newsletter, Plymouth News, as their primary source of information followed by local newspapers and the city website. 
 
2012 Survey Executive Summary
2012 Survey Graphs & Charts 
2012 Survey/Raw Results
2012 Survey Presentation (Item 8.01)