Richard Greene

Arlington residents award high scores for city performance

Arlington’s fire department is the city’s top-rated operation, with a 97 percent approval rating from residents.
Arlington’s fire department is the city’s top-rated operation, with a 97 percent approval rating from residents. Star-Telegram

In the latest yearly survey of how well things are going in Arlington, the independent marketing research firm of Decision Analyst issued this conclusion:

“The city of Arlington continues to perform very well on important key measures, such as quality of life, citizen affinity, diversity, safety, customer service, and general measures of quality and availability of major city services.”

City leaders have been conducting the annual research for the past 15 years and have used the findings to guide the setting of priorities, especially when determining where taxpayers’ dollars will be spent.

Some 5,000 mailed invitations to participate in the survey were sent to randomly selected residential addresses proportionate to city zip codes.

More than 25,000 other residents were sent email requests, also randomly selected on the same basis as those who received the regular mail solicitation.

A four percent response rate meant that more than 1,200 individuals answered questions ranging across the local government services residents depend upon to support daily life in the state’s seventh largest city.

Residents say the top six things they like best about the community were, in order of popularity, its cultural diversity, variety of housing options, financial stability, being a safe place to live, a great place to raise children and an exceptional quality of life.

When asked if they would recommend Arlington as a place to live, 78 percent said they would and 74 percent say they intend to continue to reside in the city.

Respondents’ perceptions of problems ranged from 38 percent who said neighborhood speeding, to 30 percent who cited car burglaries, to 27 percent concerned about stray animals, then 26 percent saying residential burglaries and 24 percent naming illegal drug sales.

Ninety-one percent say they feel safe in their neighborhood during the day, but the number drops to 61 percent at night.

The important “right track, wrong track” question produced only 15 percent who felt the city was headed in the wrong direction while 70 percent said things were going well.

The remaining 15 percent said they didn’t know or didn’t answer.

The top-rated operation in the city was, again, the fire department with a 97 percent grade of excellent or good.

Street and road conditions present a case for improvement. From maintenance to landscaping to sweeping and more, only 11 percent said they were excellent while less than half rated them as good.

Numbers approaching two-thirds of taxpayers during the past five years say they are getting their money’s worth for their tax dollars.

Almost 70 percent say they prefer to keep taxes and services about where they are. The current budget includes about $2.5 million of increased revenues from higher property values.

That number will be higher this coming year as a result of significant growth in tax appraisals across the board.

If residents want to see improvement in those things they rated lower, they may not resist a small increase in their taxes.

On the other hand, if opposition to a higher tax bill no matter how small is the message council members hear, then not much is going to change.

An interesting side note of where people get their information about what’s going on in their city finds 70 percent saying it’s via the Internet and online sources, 51 percent from television, with 23 percent reading the printed version of the Star-Telegram and 12 percent accessing its digital edition.

Yes, the numbers exceed 100 percent as some are gathering news and information from multiple sources. That’s a good thing. Informed people make for a stronger democracy.

All of this and much more can be easily reviewed from the full report on the city’s website.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.