Survey looks at residents' thoughts on city services

Swimming pool services don't match performance expectations.

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WALLA WALLA - A recent survey reported swimming pool service is the one area the city is not keeping up with performance expectations at a significant level.

But when it came to the most important services, the city also received mostly high rankings in performance, according to the "Walla Walla Citizen Survey Report."

The phone survey, which was contracted through Walla Walla Community College this spring for just under $5,000, involved a random questioning of 425 city residents, who were asked to rank 25 city services on a scale of 1-to-10.

The report was then compared to a similar survey conducted in 1996 to determine which services the city had improved or worsened over the last 15 years, survey coordinator Anne Haley said.

The results showed that the six most important services stayed the same from 1996 to 2011, with fire, ambulance, 911 dispatch, garbage collection, drinking water and sewer service all ranking between 9 and 10 in both surveys.

The survey also asked participants to rank the city's performance level in each service.

The two figures where then used to determine a "performance ratio difference," which would indicate where the city had improved or worsened, Haley said.

Swimming pool service had a difference of 2.8, with the next highest performance ratio difference going to street repair service at just under 1.0.

Haley was careful to point out the survey could not be used to say the city is inadequate or failing in any one service, but could help guide city officials in what services to address.

"Based on the survey there are some services which should receive an increase in attention. The public perception is that the service is worse now than it was 15 years ago," Haley said.

While pool service received a low performance ranking, it also ranked low in level of importance by citizens, coming in at 22 out of 25.

The three other services that were ranked lower in importance were bicycle trails and lanes, downtown parking enforcement and golf course services.

Just above pool service in importance were cemetery service, weed and refuse removal, animal control and summer recreation programs.

The report also showed several services where the performance ratio was significantly higher, indicating an improvement in services, Haley said.

The services that received highest performance rankings included police investigations, parks maintenance, drinking water and summer recreations programs.

On Monday, City Council will review the survey at its regular workshop session, which takes place at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave.

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