Respondents to a survey to assess resident satisfaction with the City of Pensacola’s delivery of services and life in general were about as happy with things this year as they were in 2015.
The findings include 69.3 percent of those surveyed during a five-week period in October and November believe the City is heading in the right direction, and a 14 percentage point jump in those who say they’re “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the value of city services.
“In government, we’re public servants, we work for the taxpayers,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. “And I’m always trying to go above and beyond to make sure that we’re delivering the right services at a very efficient pace. But most importantly, doing the things that they want us to do.”
It’s the third survey of its kind by the Haas Center at the University of West Florida. Amy Newburn oversaw the project, which was conducted in two parts. First, contacting Pensacola residents over the phone, and conducting “intercept surveys” at various events.
“We regularly went to the Palafox Market [in downtown Pensacola], we went to multiple events as part of the Foo-Foo Fest and the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Fair,” said Newburn. “We were looking to go to events that were open, public and free and available to all city residents.”
Only residents of Pensacola were eligible for the survey.
One media report criticized the survey, contending that West Pensacola was under-represented. Newburn says with a random sample, you get what you get.
“Not all respondents are going to pick up the phone,” Newburn said. “But, it’s really important for us to note that every person that had a phone number and within the city limits had an equal chance of being picked.”
Crunching the numbers, the survey identified three areas of concern, compared to five such areas in the 2015 edition. Parks and public safety dropped off the list.
“When you look at our parks and service that got a really high mark, and how we addressed our parks is very important,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward. “Public safety got a high mark. For me, public safety is number one every morning.”
The three remaining areas of concern are stormwater infrastructure, streets, and sidewalks.
“On the stormwater, we’ve been able to get close to $20 million in grants the last few years,” Hayward said. “Corrine Jones Stormwater Park will be coming online next year. Sidewalks, we’re doing an inventory right now and we’re going to use the [Local Option Sales Tax] money that we’ll receive in 2018 to improve those areas. We’re doing the resurfacing program, close to 1,800 blocks of roads will be resurfaced.”
Among city services, respondents gave high marks to the Fire Department, which received the highest grade, followed by recycling, garbage and yard waste services. On the other end, recreational opportunities and community centers lost some ground.
The Haas Center survey involved a random sample poll of nearly 14,000 Pensacola residents, of which 444 were sampled. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.6 percent.
The survey can be found at www.cityofpensacola.com.