Resident survey: Not all happy with county operations

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second 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 examined the findings of those who did the survey, looking at areas where the county rated at or above 50 percent satisfaction. Part II is a closer look at some of the positive and negative responses 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 overall with county government operations. It is in dealing with certain departments that the glow begins to flicker.
Not everyone was happy with how the county government is run or with some other dealings within the county, many of which have little or nothing to do with the actual 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. “There were no statistically signifiant differences in the results of the survey based on phone versus mail.”
The percentage of “don’t know” responses have been excluded from most of the graphs in this report to facilitate valid comparisons between county services, ETC explains.
The actual report, available to the public 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; 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 rating 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 rated the county as “excellent” or “good” as a place to raise a family and 72 percent rated the county as an “excellent” or “good” place to live overall.
The items that residents felt were most important for county government to focus on over the next two years, based on the 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 state that 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.
On the other side of the question, regarding how the county is currently managing growth, 46 percent said “poorly,” 37 percent said “average,” 14 percent said “good” and 3 percent said “excellent.”
Regarding the overall quality of services provided, results were: 22 percent said “poor,” 41 percent said “average,” 31 percent said “good” and 6 percent responded with “excellent.”
Roughly 75 percent of respondents rated Rio Blanco County as an excellent or good place to raise a family and 72 percent rated it is a as a excellent or good place to live. However, 55 percent said they felt that Rio Blanco is a poor to average place to work and 58 percent said it is either a poor or average place to retire.
Rating various conditions within the county, 50 percent said the overall image of their community was rated 50 percent as excellent or good with 50 percent saying average or poor. Regarding the appearance of their community, 44 percent responded “excellent or good” while 56 percent state “average” or “poor.”
Regarding job opportunities, only l4 percent rated the county as “excellent or average” (only 2 percent said “excellent”) while 85 percent rated the county as “average” or “poor”(49 percent rated the county as “poor”).
Satisfaction with various county services ranged from the top with the county’s local election services ranked tops with 76 percent saying those services have been “excellent” to “good;” and county motor vehicle office services were No. 2 with 61 percent rating the services as “excellent” or “good.” The lower end of the survey saw 69 percent of respondents rating opportunities for public involvement in decisions as 69 percent “poor” or “average;” and 69 percent rated “poor” to “average” the county government’s efforts to keep residents informed.
Of the 17 county officials named by department, six were rated by 50 percent of the respondents as “very satisfied” or “satisfied.” Those top ratings were County Clerk & Recorder at 73 percent, County Sheriff at 66 percent, County Treasurer at 59 percent, County Surveyor at 53 percent, 52 percent for the County Coroner and 50 percent for the County Assessor.
The bottom six in regard to resident satisfaction with county officials are noted here by those who responded with “dissatisfied” or “average:” 70 percent for the county IT Department personnel; 68 percent of the county GIS Department personnel; 67 percent with the county Budget & Finance Department personnel, 65 percent of the County Sales and Use Tax Administrator personnel, 65 percent of the County Human Resources Department personnel and 64 percent of those in the County Attorney’s Office.
The department with the highest “dissatisfied” rating is the County Commissioners’ Office with a “dissatisfied” rating of 24 percent, followed by the County Attorney’s Office at 23 percent, 22 percent for the county Sales & Use Tax Administrator’s Office and 21 percent for the county Budget & Finance Department personnel.
Regarding satisfaction with other county services, only two of nine questions pulled more than 50 percent of the “very satisfied” or “satisfied” responses. Ease of travel as a motorist on county roads, 59 percent agreed; off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails drew an approval rating of 56 percent.
The bottom five categories regarding satisfaction with county services are: How well the county is planning/managing growth had a dissatisfied or neutral rating by 81 percent (44 percent were dissatisfied) of respondents; on public transportation, 79 percent were dissatisfied or neutral; on availability of affordable housing, 72 percent were dissatisfied or neutral; code enforcement issues saw 72 percent dissatisfied or neutral; and condition of major roads pulled “dissatisfied” or “neutral” on 53 percent of the responses.
The number of years that survey respondents have lived in Rio Blanco County are: 5 years or less – 20 percent; six to 10 years — 11 percent; 11 to 15 years — 10 percent; 16 to 20 years — 9 percent; more than 20 years — 49 percent.