50% of Cottonwood Heights residents say city is heading in the right direction, according to new community survey
Jan 27, 2020 10:29AM
By Cassie Goff
“What do you like most about living in Cottonwood Heights?” (Photo courtesy of Y2 Analytics)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
On Jan. 7, Y2 Analytics Vice President of Research Kyrene Gibb reported on the results of the recent community survey distributed in early November to registered voters living within Cottonwood Heights, 10,928 digital invitations and 2,000 mailers were sent out to invite registered voters within the zip codes of the city to take a 65-question survey related to local city government.
In total, 1,069 residents responded by completing online surveys. The 11.9% response rate was on the high side of average for Utah surveys, as Y2 Analytics usually sees between an 8 to 15% response rate. With this particular survey, there was a margin of error of three percentage points.
Similar iterations of the same survey were distributed in 2016 and 2017. Between the three rounds of resident surveys, some comparisons were particularly interesting to the city council and researchers.
What Gibb found interesting was that this time residents were less likely to answer a question about if the city was headed in the right direction. “They weren’t willing to stake an opinion.”
The question: “Overall, would you say the city of Cottonwood Heights is headed in the right direction or the wrong direction?” was posed to survey respondents with each of the three surveys. In 2016, 14% of respondents thought the city was headed in the wrong direction, while 55% thought the city was headed in the right direction. In 2017, that percentage shifted, as 14% of respondents thought the city was headed in the wrong direction, while 61% thought the city was headed in the right direction. In 2019, 16% of respondents thought the city was headed in the wrong direction, while 50% thought the city was headed in the right direction. However, in each of the three surveys, over 25% of respondents were unsure.
From 2016 to 2019, the most improved scored was for police services: moving from a 63% satisfaction rate to a 72% satisfaction rate.
In response to the question: “How would you rate the city of Cottonwood Heights today compared to five years ago?” 37% of respondents reported the city to be about the same, while 29% reported that the city has become somewhat better and 13% reported the city to be somewhat worse.
Overall, survey respondents “reported many positive metrics,” Gibb said. For example, three out of four residents approve of elected officials; two out of three residents receive excellent or good value out of their tax dollar; eight out of 10 residents report being satisfied with staff accountability; and nine out of 10 say they would recommend the city as a place to live.
While the Cottonwood Heights City Council was interested in resident feedback overall, there were a few specific topics of consideration they were hoping to receive feedback on as well.
One of those specific topics was that of storm water within the city. The survey asked: “The city of Cottonwood Heights is considering allocating more funds to repair and maintain its storm water drainage system. In order to allocate funds to storm water projects, would you rather see the city redistribute funds in the existing budget by reducing expenditures in other areas of the city, or asses a new storm water fee on all property owners to allow the city to maintain current expenditures in other areas?”
Sixty-seven percent of respondents opted to use existing funds for repair and maintenance, while 33% of respondents opted to implement a new storm water fee.
A similar question was asked in response to sustainability. The city “passed a resolution earlier this year with the goal of having all city operations running on renewable energy by 2021 and all city-wide power (to homes and businesses) on renewable energy resources by 2030. If you knew that this would result in additional costs to the city or to you as a resident, would you support this goal?”
Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they would be in support if there was not an additional cost, and 67% said they would be in support if there was an additional associated cost. “Two out of three residents would support sustainability with associated costs,” reported Gibb.
When posed with the hypothetical of being responsible for $100 worth of the city’s budget, survey respondents said they would allocate that money toward maintenance on city streets, snow removal services, renewable energy resources, and city and open spaces.
Contrary to many public resident comments, only 7% of survey respondents believe they receive poor service from their tax dollars, while 92% of respondents believe they receive fair, good or excellent service for their tax dollars.
Residents are most satisfied with the city services of fire and emergency medical services, drinking water, garbage collection, the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center and emergency preparedness; while residents are least satisfied with planning, zoning and building services, sidewalk maintenance, surface maintenance of city streets, city code enforcement and street lighting.
Some additional results included renewable energy and city parks being the highest of concern for residents; the most important issues were growth, traffic, development, and Wasatch Boulevard; residents showing significant interest in an off-leash dog park; a 70% approval rating for the city council; 43% of residents never ride bikes on city streets, while 17% ride bikes on city streets once per week or more; and 42% of residents get their information from the Journal (thank you for your readership).
To see the full report, visit the Cottonwood Heights City website: wwww.cottonwoodheights.utah.gov.