Satisfaction with council performance at four year high

The performance of the Hurunui District Council and its facilities and services continues to rate highly with residents.

The latest resident and ratepayer survey shows an increased overall level of satisfaction with the council’s performance for the fourth year in a row.

Now at 87% - that is an increase of four percent on last year and nine percent since surveying began in 2007. There is a corresponding reduction in dissatisfaction with overall performance, down from 19% to 11%. (2% don’t know).

76% also remain satisfied with the performance of the Mayor and Councillors while satisfaction with the Hanmer Springs Community Board has risen to 63%, an eight percent increase on last year.

Chief Executive Andrew Dalziel says while that is a great result for the new board in particular, which has been working hard to engage with its community, the decreased level of unhappiness with both governing bodies is equally significant.

“Dissatisfaction levels with the mayor and councillors has dropped markedly from the previous year, more than halving, from 16% to 7%, and with the community board from 24% to 13%.

“Taken together, both figures seem to reflect the changes that followed the October 2010 election and a desire of some respondents to give both bodies a bit more time to bed in before making a determination on performance.”

79% also said they were satisfied with the service received from council offices, which represents an increase of one percent on last year and 3% decrease in dissatisfaction.

Andrew Dalziel, says it is obviously pleasing to see the line on the graph continue it’s upwards climb and notes in particular the marked reduction in concerns relating to difficulties reaching staff and to follow up.

“As a small council, it is not always possible for people to be at their desks or at the end of a phone when someone wants them. They are often in the field.

“But we recognise our ratepayers expect a certain level of service and have been working to ensure they are able to raise any issues with us when they need to and that we ensure the right people get back to them with answers in a timely way.

“The results from this survey certainly suggest some of those changes we have made are working.”

The vast majority of the between 63% and 76% of respondents who have visited a council facility in the past 12 months also rate the experience very highly.

Users rate satisfaction with the standard of our halls and quality of public toilets is at 90% percent, standard of our cemeteries at 93%, maintenance of our parks and reserves at 94% and 96% for our libraries.

Andrew Dalziel says it is clearly very encouraging to have such a significant satisfaction rating from residents.

“These council funded facilities are provided for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to our district and it is heartening to be told they are happy with our stewardship of what are clearly considered important assets to our community.”

Respondents to this year’s survey also again confirmed roading and water as the top priorities for rates spend and their satisfaction in particular, with the appearance and taste of the district’s town water supplies at 79% and pressure and flow at 86%, both of which are up two percent on last year.

There has been a three percent increase in satisfaction with the quantity of water on rural schemes from 78 to 81% this year.

Satisfaction with roading services has also remained relatively constant with an overall increase in satisfaction with overall maintenance of our roads from 70% to 73%.

Satisfaction with the collection of household waste has also improved from 91% to 95%.

In the wake of the recent earthquakes in Canterbury two additional questions were added to this year’s survey which revealed three quarters of those surveyed now have a household plan in place in the event of a civil defence emergency or fire (up from 62% last year) and only 63% know where their nearest civil defence sector post is.

In order to try and improve the latter figure, the council last month delivered “Get Ready Get Thru Hurunui”, a 44 page booklet, to all residents detailing the location of sector posts along with other important information around emergency preparedness.

500 residents, of whom more than 80% are residential ratepayers, were surveyed by Opinions Market Research Limited, as part of the annual review of council performance.

More than half had lived in the district for at least five years, if not all their lives.

More than a third listed their occupation as labourer, farmer, domestic or agricultural worker. Just over 20% were retired and just six percent were aged between 18 and 24.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

For further information:

Andrew Dalziel

Chief Executive

Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0011