A closer look at College Station’s 2012 Citizen Survey

When I was a kid, I absolutely adored sports statistics. Batting averages, shooting percentages, passing efficiency – you name it, I ate it up.  I never dreamed I would someday be just as enamored by the vast array of statistical data in your average citizen survey.

National Service Research conducted the City of College Station’s survey in May and presented the 49-page summary report to the city council on Wednesday. About 150 pages of the raw survey data sits on my desk. What kind of stat nerd would spend hours of his life pouring over this stuff? Yep, this guy. And despite what you might think, some of the numbers are actually pretty interesting, especially when compared to state and national averages.

In sports, a .325 batting average may be impressive, but what if the player only ranks 50th in the league? What if he hits .300 but ranks 8th? We compare sports statistics to give context to how athletes perform. Cities do the same thing with citizen surveys to achieve a similar context.

Our survey compares us to different sized cities in Texas as well as state and national averages. The complete benchmark comparisons can be found on pages 42-43 in the final report. We plan to conduct these surveys more frequently so that we can measure our performance over time.

So, how do we stack up?

Since different surveys frame questions in different ways, we were able to draw direct comparisons with other cities in only 21 areas. In 15 of those categories, College Station’s satisfaction numbers were significantly higher than state and national averages.  Keep in mind that the ratings are the combined percentages of residents who selected good or excellent.

Higher than State/National Averages

  • City as a Place to Live — 93 (Texas 86, National n/a)
  • City as a Place to Raise a Family —  93 (Texas 86, National n/a)
  • City as a Place to Work —  77 (Texas 64, National n/a)
  • City as a Place to Retire —  77 (Texas 57, National n/a)
  • Overall Direction of City —  82 (Texas 66, National n/a)
  • Value of Services for Taxes Paid —  69 (Texas 64, National 45)
  • Public Safety —  93 (Texas 85, National 83)
  • Sewer/Wastewater —  92 (Texas 82, National 74)
  • Garbage/Recycling —  86 (Texas 83, National 77)
  • Storm Drainage —  79 (Texas 71, National 62)
  • Street Maintenance —  71 (Texas 62, National 59)
  • Animal Control —  70 (Texas 62, National 59)
  • Senior Services —  67 (Texas 54, National n/a)
  • Code Enforcement —  65 (Texas 54, National 50)
  • Customer Service —  89 (Texas 79, National 69)

Statistically Comparable to State/National Averages

  • Overall Quality of Life —  84 (Texas 83, National 80)
  • Neighborhood as a Place to Live —  87 (Texas 86)
  • Maintenance/Appearance of Parks —  79 (Texas 86, National 77)
  • Library —  77 (Texas 74, National n/a)
  • Traffic Law Enforcement —  74 (Texas 69, National n/a)
  • Traffic Management —  50 (Texas 52, National 54)

The survey is simply one of many tools that city management and the city council will use to provide a high level of service to our residents. While it’s apparent that College Station stacks up well across the board, we also recognize that the survey shows many areas that need improvement, and that’s even more valuable to us than the positive ratings.

Check out the complete survey results when you have a chance and let us know what you think. As this survey illustrates, your opinion is always important to us.

Colin Killian

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