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City survey shows support for drinking water bond, but pool backing dries up

Phone survey reveals

While the residents of West Linn continue to want clean drinking water, it seems their desire to swim in pool water is drying up.

The city recently conducted its biennial phone survey, attempting to feel the pulse of the community. This is the city's third time conducting the survey. Survey results were presented to the city council during a Feb. 6 work session.

CFM Strategic Communications administered the phone survey in January that randomly sampled 350 residents via both landline and cell phone. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.2 percent. The average age of the respondents was 58.

Overall, residents found West Linn a great place to live, with 85 percent giving the city top scores. This is an increase of 8 points since 2008.

It came as no surprise that schools and public safety are top on the list of quality and important services. Other high ranking important services include parks, the library and water and sewer services.

Top ranking issues for residents include public safety, parks and recreation, street maintenance and growth management.

'People are pretty happy. There weren't a whole lot of complaints going on,' said Tom Eiland of CFM Strategic Communications. 'What was important six years ago continue(s) to be important today.'

According to the survey, services provided by the city meet or exceed expectations of residents in all areas except economic development. Another area of concern is infrastructure - roads. However, complaints about taxes and elected officials are on the upswing in general the last few years.

'Things are trending pretty well for the city of West Linn,' said Eiland. 'It looks like things are pretty much on target.'

More than 80 percent of residents think the city is taking care of the environment. And 58 percent think the city keeps its promises to voters, up from 43 percent in 2010.

'This is good news,' Eiland said. 'There's a confidence in the community that the city is doing a good job in keeping promises.'

Of the 11 performance areas residents were asked to rate, only four did not meet expectations - they were financial management, street maintenance, growth management and economic development. Nearly three out of four residents do not want development in the Stafford area.

Two new items on the survey this year include measuring support for three different bond measures and looking at where residents get city news.

The three potential bond measures include a pool and recreation center, a drinking water bond and a parks bond. Of the three bonds, only the $10 million drinking water bond showed enough public support for consideration, with 66 percent approval. A small majority of 52 percent supported a $22 million pool and recreation center bond with strongest support among those newer to the city and those with children. Just 47 percent of respondents showed support for a $7 million parks bond.

A majority stated, however, that they want the city to aggressively pursue more economic development.

Though just one in five residents say they attended a city meeting in the last year and 33 percent attend neighborhood meetings, a quarter of residents do not know what neighborhood they live in.

Residents are getting city news through a variety of other sources. Fifty-two percent of respondents get their news from the West Linn Tidings, followed by 31 percent by word-of-mouth and 30 percent from The Oregonian.

An overwhelming 95 percent of respondents have Internet access, well above the 80 percent statewide average. Of those, 63 percent use social media with half on Facebook or other social media.

'It's not just a young person's tool,' said Eiland of the Internet, recommending the city use its large email list of 10,000 to get more information from residents.

City Counciler Jody Carson recommended adding some new questions to the survey in 2014 and redefining vague questions.

'I was impressed by the findings,' Eiland said. 'People like living here.'

The city uses the survey to rate the importance and quality of city services, assess perceptions of city activities, track changes of opinion, measure support for bond measures and to assess where people get news about local issues.

The city council will use the survey results as just one tool during its annual goal-setting workshop this weekend.

'The survey is a place for us to start asking more questions,' West Linn Mayor John Kovash said.



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