Citizen survey: County residents mostly happy with RBC

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series that looks at the Rio Blanco County-commissioned resident-satisfaction survey that measures resident satisfaction with the county government and its services. The first part examines the findings of those who did the survey, looking at areas where the county rated at or above 50 percent satisfaction. Part II will be a closer look at some of the positive and much of the negative that surfaced through the survey.

RBC I In a survey of county residents undertaken by the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners and then-County Administrator Kimberly Bullen in June, folks who live in the county are relatively happy living in the county and with county governmental operations.
There were some glitches along the way, however, as not everyone was happy with how the county government is run and with some other happenings within the county, many of which have little or nothing to do with county government itself.
According to the ETC Institute of Olathe, Kan., the company that conducted the independent survey, the company “administered a community survey for Rio Blanco County during April through June of 2013. The survey is part of the county’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of county services provided.”
The six-page survey was mailed to a random sample of households in Rio Blanco County. Approximately two weeks after the mailings, residents who received the survey were contacted by phone, ETC states. Those who indicated they had not returned the survey were given the option of completing by phone.
“A total of 592 households completed the survey; the results for the random sample of 592 households have a precision of at least a +/- (plus or minus) 3.8 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence,” ETC states in the survey results. “There were no statistically signifiant differences in the results of the survey based on the method used, phone versus mail.”
The percentage of “don’t know” responses have been excluded from many of the graphs in this report to facilitate valid comparisons between county services, ETC explains. When the “don’t know” responses have been excluded, the text of this report will indicate that the responses have been exclude with the phrase “who had an opinion.”
The actual report, which is open to the public and available at the Rio Blanco County Clerk’s Office, contains: a summary of the methodology for administering the survey and major findings; charts showing the overall results for most questions on the survey; tables that show the results for all questions on the survey; and a copy of the actual survey.
Sixty-six percent of the residents surveyed who had an opinion rated the overall quality of life in Rio Blanco County as “excellent” or “good;” 28 percent rated the quality of life as “average” and only 7 percent rated the quality of life as either “poor” or “very poor.”
When asked to rate specific aspects of living in the county, 75 percent surveyed who had an opinion rated the county as “excellent” or “good to raise a family and 72 percent rated the county as an “excellent’ or “good” place to live.
The items that residents felt were most important for the county government to emphasize during the next two years, based on the combined percentage of residents who felt the item was “very important or “important” were: 83 percent said the county should create a community where individuals and families have opportunities to be self-sufficient; 79 percent the county should promote a variety of industries that promote a healthy economy; and 78 percent felt the county should plan the infrastructure to maintain quality of life in the face of growth.
The overall county services that residents were most satisfied with, based upon the combined percentage of residents “very satisfied or “satisfied” were: the county’s local election services at 76 percent; the services received at the county motor vehicle offices at 61 percent and the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds in Meeker at 53 percent.

Satisfaction by Area
County Departments: County departments that residents were most satisfied with, based upon the combined percentage of residents who were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” were: The county clerk and recorder at 80 percent; the county treasurer’s office at 72 percent, the county sheriff’s department at 66 percent, the county assessor’s office at 60 percent; the county fairgrounds department at 58 percent; and the Rio Blanco County fairgrounds in Meeker at 53 percent.

Senior Services
The senior services that residents were most satisfied with, responding “very satisfied” or “satisfied” were: The Meeker Streaker transportation services at 64 percent; and the services for seniors provided by the county at 61 percent.

County Officials
The county officials that residents were most satisfied with, based on the those who were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their interaction with the officials were: The County Clerk and Recorder at 73 percent, the County Sheriff at 66 percent, the County Treasurer at 59 percent, the County Surveyor at 53 percent, the County Coroner at 52 percent; and the County Assessor at 50 percent.

Services as Specific Locations
The locations receiving the highest satisfaction ratings based on “very satisfied” and “satisfied” wit the services were: the County Fairgrounds; the Freeman E. Fairfield Center at 57 percent; Columbine Park in Rangely at 57 percent and the County Landfill at 52 percent.

Customer Service
Residents who had interacted with county employees were generally satisfied with the quality of customer service. Items that residents were most satisfied with, based on their “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses were: how easy county employees were to contact at 77 percent; the way they were treated by county employees at 73 percent, the accuracy of the information/assistance given at 70 percent and how quickly county staff responded to their requests.

Perception of Safety
The services/items related to the perception of safety in the county with the highest levels of satisfaction, based on the “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses were: the feeling of safety in neighborhoods during the day at 94 percent; safety in neighborhoods during the night at 88 percent; how quickly the sheriff responds to emergencies at 77 percent; the overall quality of local law enforcement at 67 percent; and emergency planning/ response at 62 percent.

Specific Conditions
Residents were asked to rate specific conditions in Rio Blanco County. The items with the highest ratings, based on the combine percent of “excellent” and “good” responses among respondents were: air quality at 87 percent and the availability of recreation opportunities at 80 percent.
Other Services: Residents were asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with other services provided by the county. The other services that residents rated highest, based on the “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses among respondents were: the ease of travel as a motorist on county roads at 59 percent and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails at 56 percent.

Other Findings
Sixty percent of the residents surveyed either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that Rio Blanco County should use county funds to help businesses already located in the county to further expand in Rio Blanco County; 20 percent were neutral about this statement; and 20 percent disagreed.
Fifty-nine percent of the respondents either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that Rio Blanco County should use county funds to encourage to companies to locate here; 20 were neutral; and 22 percent disagreed.
The No. 1 source that residents used to get information about county programs and services was the newspaper.
Residents were generally mixed on whether the county should promote the use of vehicles that use compressed natural gas (CNG) as fuel: 37 percent felt the county should promote the use of vehicles that use CNG, 25 percent felt the county should not, and 38 percent did not know.
When asked if they would consider purchasing or driving a CNG or bi-fuel vehicle if accessible locally, 41 percent indicated that they would not consider purchasing one, 28 percent indicated they would consider it, and 31 percent did not know.