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City notes: Survey provides numbers useful as city plans for future

In Rosemount we work in city government to serve people, not numbers. But occasionally, it helps to use numbers to get the big picture — to see how we’re doing and how we can improve service to our citizens. I’d like to share some of the numbers we just collected.

They come from a survey conducted by Morris Leatherman Company, a highly regarded research firm. Its workers phoned a scientifically selected random sample of 400 Rosemount households in May. That gives the survey a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The city last commissioned a community survey in 2007. Having a fresh yardstick is valuable for good management of our city’s resources. The new results don’t just cover city government. They demonstrate the accomplishments of everyone in our community.

That was explained by the survey firm’s president, Bill Morris. He came to a recent city council meeting to give an overview of the findings and to compare those results with surveys he has conducted in more than 90 Minnesota communities. By and large, those comparisons are very favorable.

The survey gives several examples. When asked about the quality of life in Rosemount, 96 percent judged it excellent or good — putting our community in the top 10 percent of cities surveyed. When respondents were asked what they think about the direction of the community, 88 percent said Rosemount is moving in the right direction, again one of the strongest showings in the metro area.

Survey takers heard that 38 percent in Rosemount feel our sense of community is excellent, a big increase from seven years ago and one of the strongest results in the metro. Maybe that’s because 72 percent take part in neighborhood activities, which as Bill said is “absolutely the high end of the metropolitan area.”

As for the performance of city government, we are pleased that residents gave high marks to the work of the mayor and council and of the city staff, both in the top 10 for surveyed cities. And we’re fortunate that citizens know they can help guide our city. 86 percent feel they are empowered to have a say beyond the ballot box about how this city is run.

As for the services the city provides, 86 percent rated them excellent or good, versus 12 percent only fair or poor. Fire, police and emergency dispatching each drew percentages for excellent or good in the high 90s.

Compared with the last survey, more Rosemount residents consider our tax rate about average instead of too high when compared with neighboring communities. We believe that supports the cautious approach the city has taken toward spending. In the last six years, our tax levy has dropped 7.6 percent. The survey tells us 86 percent of residents agree they get excellent or good value for taxes paid and services rendered.

But some people have a wish list for Rosemount. An example is the desire of many in the survey to bring more shopping and dining options to town — a goal our port authority is working to achieve.

We have a lot more digging ahead to understand the numbers. The survey firm is preparing an analysis that will run several hundred pages to explore the data in a multitude of ways. Understanding those results will inform the council’s decision making on budgeting and capital expenditures. And it will help council members set their goals for the community and for the work of the city staff in the years ahead.

So we can’t rest on our laurels. But all of us — in government, in our neighborhoods, and in our community organizations — can take pride in what Rosemount has achieved and in the prospects for more accomplishments in the future.

City administrator Dwight Johnson authored this column.