According to a news release from the City of Sedalia, the fourth annual Citywide Citizens Survey is now complete. The purpose of the yearly survey is to provide a base measurement for public opinion of city services. Further, it helps to point out what areas of city government are in need of improvement.

Most of the questions ask respondents to rank an issue Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. When measuring the responses, excellent and good are grouped together. Fair and poor rankings stand by themselves. Any excellent to good response that is 50% or above shows strong favorability.

Local citizens continue to describe Sedalia as a good place to live. 71% rated the city as a good to excellent place to call home. That is identical to last year’s ranking and slightly above the two previous years. This also tracks with the question that asks how safe do you feel in Sedalia. This year that number is 68%. Compared to previous years and by a very small margin, that is the highest number yet. It has been slightly improving each year since the first survey in 2013. The safety question is a direct reflection of Sedalia’s Police and Fire services.

Also improving each year is people’s opinion of the overall quality of service provided by the City. This year 72% of those responding say city services are excellent to good. This is the highest favorable rating yet when compared to previous years. It has steadily improved from 64% in 2013, which also was a very strong number. Similarly, 83% of the respondents said they were treated in a courteous manner in their last contact with the City and 7% said they were not.

Some of the more high profile questions from this survey involved simple yes and no responses dealing with trash collection and recycling. 57% of those responding said yes to the question that they were ok with once a week trash pick-up if it meant keeping the monthly rates low. 36% said they did not want to lose the twice a week trash pick-up. Also, 73% said they want recycling to continue and 19% said they do not want it to continue.

Each year, for the past two years, a large majority favor rental home inspections for health and safety reasons. That is the case again this year. 70% said yes to rental inspections and 21% said no. These numbers are very similar to surveys in 2014 and 2015 that asked the same question. 2 Although a very strong 77% of those responding commented that Parks and Recreation is doing an excellent to good job, which is its highest favorability rating yet, 41% said they favor a community center without a swimming pool, while 48% said they do not support the idea of a community center being built without a pool. In 2013, 49% of the respondents said they have a high opinion of downtown Sedalia. However, in 2016 that number is up to 59%. This is considered a strong rating and a significant improvement.

Street maintenance has steadily climbed upward since 2013’s survey. This coincides with a larger street budget for the past three years. Sedalians continue to have a solid positive opinion of their police and fire departments. Both are well above 50%.

A total of 906 surveys were returned and tabulated. This is almost exactly a 10% return rate which is considered a fair to strong response and provides a good measurement tool for city services. The 906 total is higher than previous years.

Randy Kirby