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Survey: Islanders feel good about city
In early April, the City commissioned a professional telephone survey of registered voters across the Island to gather opinions on community, government, and quality of life issues here. Launched in 2008, the survey occurs every two years, and provides the Council and City staff with feedback from a wide cross-section of residents.
In an effort to keep the cost of the survey low, the number of Island residents contacted this year was 300 instead of 400 called in previous years. Ian Stewart of EMC Research, a consulting firm that offers market and opinion research, conducted the 2014 survey as it has for several years. Stewart grew up on the Island. Participants are selected randomly for the sample. Residents were contacted via cell or land line telephone. This year the survey cost $12,500.
The split between men and women was slightly lopsided. Forty-seven percent of the survey observations were from men and 53 percent from women.
Overall, the city came out well as nearly three-quarters of respondents reported that they feel favorable about the town and its leaders. Seventy four percent agreed that “things on Mercer Island are generally headed in the right direction.” Just 11 percent said no, while 14 percent said they did not know.
Respondents said the city was using their tax dollars wisely with two-thirds rating the city’s stewardship of tax revenue as good to excellent. At the same time, only one-third rated King County’s use of tax dollars as good to excellent.
Survey participants rated the city’s performance in terms of maintenance of streets, parks, trails and open spaces and playground, very high.
Eighty-five percent of respondents answered the question that the amount of public services provided by the city was ‘about right.’
“What this shows,” said Stewart, “is that residents have ‘great comfort here.’”
Despite increasing change in the Town Center, 71 percent said that they are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the Town Center. But there is always room for improvement. When asked what one improvement they would add to the Town Center, 22 percent said, ‘more parking’ followed by 11 percent who said ‘stop building and overdevelopment’ and 17 percent who said that more businesses, stores and restaurants are needed.
Nearly all said they felt safe here. Eighty-seven percent said they feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood.
Survey participants answered questions as to what they think of future programs that are being implemented by the city.
In regards to the city’s sustainability initiatives, surveyors asked respondents if they were likely to join programs that would help them use less energy at home or on the road.
When asked if they could see themselves likely to participate in Puget Sound Energy’s ‘Green Power’ program in the next two years, half said likely and 37 percent said unlikely. As to the possibility of purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle in two years time, 60 percent said unlikely while 15 percent said very likely. Just 21 percent said they would join a carpool and just ten percent said they would likely install solar panels at their home.
Finally, Islanders seem to feel prepared to face a major emergency event at home with nearly 60 percent who said they were completely or mostly prepared. and 37 percent most or completely unprepared.
City Manager Noel Treat said the insights from the survey are highly valuable and help the City make the best use of limited financial resources.
For the entire set of survey results, go to www.mercergov.org.