Residents Rank Quality of Police Protection and Maintenance of City Streets as City Government-Provided Services to Receive Most Emphasis from Leaders Over the Next Two Years
For two years in a row, City of Durham employees rose to the occasion to continue to serve the Bull City, and residents took notice giving them high marks again for customer service during the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic.
The results from the 2021 Resident Satisfaction Survey show that 82% of residents who had interacted with City employees were either very satisfied or satisfied with the courtesy of employees, making Durham 28.5 percentage points above the national average for large cities in customer service from City employees.
More than 73% of residents were either very satisfied or satisfied with accuracy of the information City employees provided; nearly 73% were either very satisfied or satisfied with the appropriateness of City employee responses; and a little more than 72% were either very satisfied or satisfied with how easy it was to contact City employees.
According to City Manager Wanda Page, this annual survey continues to provide an ongoing opportunity to touch base with city residents in a statistically sound way to find out what they think of the community and the services provided by their city government.
“The year 2021 was another tough year, not only for our organization and our community, but our nation. It showed how resilient we are as a people as we continued to adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic and its variants,” Page said. “I saw firsthand how our employees continued to step up and serve this community during a time when public servants were needed the most. To see that our residents continued to make note of these efforts is wonderful, and does so much for employee morale as many continue to put themselves on the front lines in service to our city.”
New for this year, the survey asked residents to indicate their level of agreement with a trained, unarmed team of responders being an appropriate first response in several 911 scenarios. Residents either strongly agreed or agreed with the following scenarios:
- Checking on the welfare of a loved one: 80%
- When a person is involved in a minor traffic accident involving property damage only: 79%
- When a person is experiencing a mental health crisis: 78%
- When a person is contemplating suicide: 77%
- When a person is panhandling in an unsafe, high‐traffic area: 68%
- Checking on an intoxicated person in public: 60%
- When a person I do not know is sleeping on my property/outside of my residence: 50%
- When there is a complaint about loud noise at a neighboring building: 50%
- When a person is yelling loudly at another person but not physically assaulting or touching the person: 46%
In policing, residents were asked to rate how safe they feel in various situations with more than 88% stating they feel either very safe or safe when walking alone in their neighborhood during the day, nearly 63% feel either very safe or safe when engaging with law enforcement, 61% feel either very safe or safe when using City recreation centers, and 60% feel either very safe or safe when walking alone in their neighborhood at night.
Planning & Development
Residents also ranked planning goals with a little more than 62% feel they learn about new development with enough notice to have their voice heard in the process and 53% feel it is easy for residents to have a say in new development proposals.
When asked how satisfied residents were with the availability of affordable housing, only 12% very satisfied or satisfied. When asked if they were able to find housing they could afford, 75.2% stated yes. However, when asked if their monthly housing costs (rent or mortgage) exceeded 30% of their monthly income, 29.6% stated yes, and 26.9% stated that major home repairs that impact their quality of life or that they have put off because of lack of resources.
Quality of Services
Another theme that emerged from the survey indicated that, compared to other large cities with populations of 150,000 to 400,000, Durham continues to set the standard for overall quality of City-provided services ranking nearly 10 percentage points above the national average. In addition, more than 84% of residents felt that Durham was a good-to-excellent place to live, and more than 82% of residents felt that Durham was a good-to-excellent place to work.
City-provided services with the highest levels of satisfaction, which combines very satisfied and satisfied responses, include:
- Solid waste collection services at 85.4%
- Curbside recycling services at 81%
- Sewer services at 76%
- Water and sewer utilities at 74.7%
- Fire and life safety programming at 73%
- Condition of greenways and trails at 72.6%
- Response time for fire services at 71.2%
- Yard waste services at 68.8%
- Quality of drinking water at 68.5%
- Quality of parks and recreation programs at 66.5%
Based on the survey, residents ranked their preferences for priorities for improvement of City-provided services over the next two years as being the quality of police protection and maintenance of city streets.
According to Page, the overall results provide a picture of, not only resident satisfaction, but also how the City administration should view community-wide priorities, since this data is used by the City Council and City administration to help direct priorities from making day-to-day decisions to overall long-term planning and funding allocations.
The ETC Institute, which conducted the resident satisfaction survey in December 2021, used a randomly selected sample of 727 households whose demographics reflect the population inside the city limits. The survey has a 95% level of confidence with a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.
The 2021 City results, shared for the first time earlier today with the Durham City Council during their virtual annual budget retreat, is the twelfth City of Durham resident satisfaction survey distributed over the past 15 years, and the seventh combined survey with Durham County Government and Durham Public Schools. The full results of the City’s portion of the survey are now available on the City’s website.