Las Vegas survey gives city mostly positive marks for services

Las Vegas officials and staff received an ego boost with a new survey that says most citizens are very satisfied with city services.

“Residents have a positive opinion of city government overall, and the satisfaction is fairly uniform,” said Chris Tatham of ETC Institute, which has conducted satisfaction surveys in more than 700 cities since 2006.

One major finding is that overall satisfaction with city services is high in all areas, Tatham said Tuesday at the city’s strategic planning retreat, where the $24,900 survey was made public. Two of three respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with city services.

The services that shined, according to the survey of 961 people in the city, were fire services, sewer services and overall quality of emergency medical services. All three had levels of dissatisfaction of less than 4 percent.

The largest area of dissatisfaction was 41 percent. Respondents were unhappy with economic development or jobs.

Residents in the seven wards, compared with other large cities with populations more than 250,000, were very satisfied or satisfied as much here as in other cities in every category but one.

The only shortfall was the overall quality of police services. which the city and county fund but do not provide. While 61 percent were satisfied in Las Vegas, other cities have an average satisfaction rate of 68 percent.

In overall satisfaction with city customer service, 68 percent of those surveyed were satisfied, but the average elsewhere was 49 percent.

“Las Vegas is setting the standard for service delivery is most areas,” Tatham said, beating other large cities in the realms of parks, recreation and community centers.

While satisfaction with city services is 19 points above the U.S. average, Las Vegas trails other cities when it comes to its overall image, the overall quality of life, the direction the city is heading, efforts to be inclusive and promote diversity, and the overall value from tax dollars.

Just 38 percent of Las Vegans surveyed believed they were getting value for their tax dollars.

The worst ratings went to the overall quality of public schools in Las Vegas, with 48 percent dissatisfied, 24 percent neutral, 21 percent satisfied and 7 percent very satisfied.

The city doesn’t run the schools. However, one retreat speaker, Allison Serafin, a member of the Nevada State Board of Education, said there are things the city can do to improve education, citing cooperative efforts between Los Angeles and that city’s education system.

The survey found people thought Las Vegas was a great place to retire (68 percent), but only one in three thought Las Vegas was a good place to raise children.

Tatham, the last of 13 speakers at the retreat at the West Sahara Library, said the trends since 2010 showed a drop in satisfaction in economic development, police services and street maintenance.

He recommended city officials need to focus on those three areas over the next year or two. The city has supported Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s More Cops initiative, which now seems dead.

Punam Mather, the retreat facilitator, said the message from the survey was that city leaders and the 3,000-person city staff are “really good.” She also noted there is no dysfunction among the elected council members.

Contact reporter Jane Ann Morrison at jmorrison@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275.