Survey reveals what residents think of their cityIt’s good news but not new news that Woodbury residents really like their community.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
It’s good news but not new news that Woodbury residents really like their community.
The new news in the city’s most recently conducted community survey? Residents no longer cite “growth” or the pace of development as a consensus “most serious issue.”
The city of Woodbury has contracted with Twin Cities-based Decision Resources to conduct its community surveys on a biannual basis for the last 15 years.
The Woodbury City Council and city department heads heard a presentation from Decision Resources officials last week that included the findings that 23 percent of all respondents in the survey conducted in March believe that growth is the still the most serious issue facing Woodbury.
Although growth is still the most popular response for residents asked to cite their most serious issue they believe is facing the community, that number is down from 36 percent in 2007 and 53 percent in 2005, when a majority of the 400 randomly selected Woodbury residents said that the pace of residential and commercial development was their top concern.
“While that is still the major concern it is not the dominant concern,” said Decision Resources official Bill Morris. “People aren’t so much as concerned about the rate of development as they are about the kinds of development coming into the community.”
The downward trend represents the fact that across the metro and the country, as the real estate market has been in a funk the last few years, Morris said.
City administrator Clint Gridley said the community survey is a good barometer for the city council and city staff to see how residents view their community and the level of service they are getting from the city.
Another measure of the economic climate expressed in the survey is that more than two-thirds of survey respondents said they would oppose a property tax increase to maintain current levels of service. That is an increase from 58 percent in 2007, 44 percent in 2005 and 38 percent in 2003.
But while a definitive majority of citizens said they don’t want to see increases in their property taxes to maintain service levels, the same survey revealed that 89 percent of residents rate the value of city services as “good” (72 percent) or “excellent” (17 percent).
Gridley said he believes those two seemingly contradictory opinions may be best explained by a general statement from citizens about the current economic conditions.
“I think that sentiment probably extends not just to the city of Woodbury, but to state and national taxation,” Gridley said, pointing out that the same survey indicated residents most residents would be to support public infrastructure additions such as expansion of the public safety department building.
Mayor Bill Hargis said the response is an additional reminder to the city about the current economic climate as it relates to property taxes.
“I think it shows we need to continue to be conservative in our budgeting as people are not willing to do tax increases,” Hargis said. “We need to keep that down and we recognize that that is a more dominant theme than it has been in previous years.”
The survey indicated many positives for the city as 99 percent of respondents said they rated their quality of life in Woodbury as good or excellent. The sense of community has been on a steady increase since 1997 with close to 100 percent of respondents rating it good or excellent.
“The sense of community has always been enviably high in (Woodbury),” Morris said.
Residents also view their city council and staff at city hall in a positive light, Morris added, which puts Woodbury in at the top four of suburban communities in the Twin Cities metro area.
Mayor Bill Hargis said he was pleased to see the positive results of the survey, but said that will not mean the city will be resting on its successful reviews.
“We appreciate the support of the community and the positive feedback,” he said. “The trap is not to take ourselves for granted. We have to keep doing the fundamentals well.”