With lots of Arlington streets in decay and $100 million worth of construction underway on others, barely half of respondents to the city’s annual citizen satisfaction survey were happy with city road conditions.
But in other cities, 50 percent disappointment over streets might be a blessing, according to a national survey of cities with populations over 250,000.
In fact, Arlington led in favorable survey results on most public services compared with the national average of 30 cities, compiled in a survey commissioned by the city of Austin.
Arlington took its annual local satisfaction survey results — based on 988 randomly selected respondents for online questionnaires — and worked them into the national study, said Devon Waters, the city’s senior performance analyst. Both surveys were presented at a City Council retreat Tuesday at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
As City Manager Trey Yelverton said during the presentation, “believe it or not” 58 percent of residents gave a positive rating on the condition of major Arlington thoroughfares and 51 percent did so on neighborhood streets. That compares with 43 percent and 36 percent, respectively, in the national survey.
The Arlington ratings also topped the national average for parks and recreation (85 percent to 63 percent); quality of drinking water (77 percent to 68 percent); library services (89 percent to 69 percent); customer service (67 percent to 36 percent); and code enforcement (46 percent to 40 percent).
Arlington residents feel much safer in the daytime than at night in their neighborhoods: 89 percent to 59 percent. The feeling of daytime safety gets about the same mark in the national average, but only 49 percent feel safe at night.
Emergency medical services jumped 8 points to a 96 percent satisfaction rating among respondents who used the service. EMS leapfrogged the Fire Department and library services as the highest rated city service for the first time.
“We’re pleased to see their performance jump,” said Fire Chief Don Crowson, noting that the EMS is a function of the Fire Department. He gave partial credit to a computer-assisted dispatch system that has “allowed us to get essentially real-time information on ambulance performance,” which has helped make operational improvements.
He believes the community paramedicine program is another reason for the EMS’s improved ratings. The program sends paramedics on house calls to check up on higher-risk patients recently released from the hospital.
“We do follow-ups to make sure they’re taking their required medicine,” Crowson said. “If they have issues at home we’ll come check on them so they don’t wind up back in the emergency room.”
Waters also inserted the Arlington satisfaction results in bar graphs of the Austin report showing head-to-head scores of individual cities -- to mostly glowing outcomes for Arlington. The city’s parks rating of 85 percent easily topped a comparison with the national average (63 percent) and 16 other cities, including all the larger Texas cities.
Arlington police services’ rating (75 percent) bested the national average (59 percent) and the rates for 10 other cities on another chart, as did the Arlington EMS and the fire services.
But library services (89 percent) placed a close second to Des Moines (91 percent), and code enforcement (56 percent) placed fourth among 17 cities, a list topped by Fort Worth with a satisfaction rating of more than 70 percent.
Yelverton suggested Arlington might “have a role model” in Fort Worth, at least on the code issue.
Arlington respondents also overwhelmingly preferred to keep taxes and services about where they are.
Here’s how residents perceive and rate the worst problems in their neighborhoods, with this year’s results being the first number and last year’s the second.
▪ Speeding: 42 percent (38 percent)
▪ Car burglaries: 34 percent (30 percent)
▪ Home burglaries: 34 percent (26 percent)
▪ Stray animals: 27 percent (2016: 27 percent)
▪ Unkempt property: 25 percent (21 percent)
▪ High grass/weeds: 22 percent (17 percent)
▪ Illegal drug sales: 22 percent (24 percent)
▪ RVs/oversized vehicles: 17 percent (19 percent)
▪ Violent crime: 13 percent (13 percent)
▪ Neighborhood gangs: 10 percent (13 percent)