City’s survey viewed as a tool for growth

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The unemployment rate is...the voter turnout in November was...the percent of individuals satisfied with quality of life in Perryville is?
Numbers are just numbers, but the intent of city officials, coupled with the latest survey results, is to find a way to extrapolate the most recent data into ways to improve services to residents.
“Our very first survey, we were trying to figure out what to do with trash,” said Perryville city administrator Brent Buerck.
At the time, Buerck said the price for the service was not enough to cover the city’s cost, and the city wanted to know if citizens were willing pay more for trash or have reduced services.
Previous survey input has been utilized in recent years on a parks master plan, according to Buerck.
“We have used this survey to figure out the direction we wanted to go,” Buerck noted. “Improvements...those are direct result of these surveys.”
Another area to benefit has been tourism, according to Buerck.
“It’s been very valuable as we seek input from residences on what’s important and needs our attention and focus,” Buerck said.
Robert Heacock of the ETC Institute presented highlights of the latest survey findings at a Jan. 5 Board of Aldermen meeting.
“The purpose for this type of community survey is to objectively assess citizens’ satisfaction with the delivery of major city services, to give you that feedback from the entirety of your residences in your community, not just maybe those that have the loudest voice or are the squeaky wheel, persay,” Heacock told the aldermen earlier this month. “... It’s only a snapshot in time. It’s a tool, not meant to be the be-all, end-all for any decision making process but certainly better than operating in a vacuum.”
The 2020 version was a seven-page survey and it could be completed either via mail or online.
“We asked some of the same questions so we could kind of see how those trends have impacted the community over time,” Heacock said.
The consultant’s target was 400 responses and better than 640 residents completed the survey, which cost the city $14,800.
Heacock was very pleased with the results.
“We had tremendous results in a positive way for the city almost across the board,” Heacock said. “Your citizens have a very, very positive perception of the city.”
A total of 91 percent rated the city as either an “excellent” or “good” as a place to live.
“Perryville is really indeed setting the standard for the delivery of city services. In fact, I would say in some cases you’re lapping the field almost, you’re doing that well.”
In terms of satisfaction of overall quality of city services, Perryville rated 37 percent above the U.S. average and 43 percent above those communities. In total, the city was significantly above comparative communities in 55 of 57 measurements, Heacock said.
“This is tremendous,” he said. “We don’t get many opportunities to often show or present to a city like this where we have as many positive areas of feedback from your residences. They are really on track with what you’re doing here and rate it well.”
Heacock pointed out that 42 percent said maintenance/infrastructure was most important
Top priorities for improvement included the maintenance of city streets and infrastructure, management of stormwater runoff and enforcement of city ordinances.
Updated streets is a common response, according to Heacock.
“(It’s) one of those basic expectations. They want good streets. They don’t want to ruin their cars by going over potholes and that sort of thing,” Heacock said.
The consultant credited the city for recent improvements made to parks in Perryville.
“You’ve done some really cool touches with your parks,” he said.
In terms of where city residents turn to get information, 55.7 percent responded the local newspaper, followed by checking the utility bill at 54 percent.

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