WATAUGA -- Three-quarters of those who responded to the first Watauga residents' survey in 10 years believe the city's overall quality of life is excellent or good.
But that's far below results in neighboring cities, said the National Citizen Survey, a joint effort of the National Research Center and the International City/County Management Association.
For instance, in Fort Worth's August survey, 95 percent of 1,614 respondents said the quality of life met or exceeded expectations, spokesman Bill Begley said.
From its 2010 survey, Colleyville found that 96 percent of respondents were satisfied with their quality of life, spokeswoman Mona Gandy said. Also, 82 percent were satisfied with the value of services received for the amount of tax dollars paid.
Thirty-four percent of Watauga respondents said the City Council does a good or excellent job representing their interests. Mayor Harry Jeffries said he hopes the survey shows residents that the city's administration is listening.
"If we have to we'll make changes to accommodate the needs of our citizens," Jeffries said.
City Manager Scott Neils said the staff and council "take this survey seriously and will use this as a tool to prepare a plan of action for the 2013 budget year."
Sidewalks should get a lot of attention as a result, as their maintenance ranked just above police, fire and public information for greatest influence on overall service quality.
The survey ranked water and sewer services as the most important of seven city services that also included drainage, parks, library, recreation, senior center and swimming pool/splash center.
"We have been concentrating mostly on water and sewer pipes," Jeffries said. "We've had a lot of water main breaks this year. We're doing a smoke test to see what all the sewer lines look like. We'll have a report on that in probably a month."
Only 33 percent of respondents rated street repair good or excellent, much below national and neighboring cities' responses.
"We're working to do a street overhaul plan next month, and I think our streets will be a lot better within the next 10 years," Jeffries said.
The survey was mailed to 1,200 randomly selected residents from a population of about 23,500.
Councilman Brandon Krausse said he had hoped for higher participation than the 319 surveys received back -- a 27 percent response rate.
"That's within the normal amount, but for our city size we should have gotten a bigger sample," Krausse said.
The surveying association said that typical response rates range from 25 to 40 percent.
Hurst hopes to get a huge sample by inviting all its residents to participate in an online survey at www.ci.hurst.tx.us, spokeswoman Ashleigh Whiteman said.
In a similar survey last year, 91 percent of 749 respondents rated the quality of life good or excellent.
Arlington also puts its annual survey online at arlingtontx.gov.
From the fall 2010 survey, 82 percent of respondents rated quality of life excellent or good, and about 66 percent rated satisfaction with city services at 80 percent or higher, according to the city's website.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620