Survey parses opinions on Powell

ThisWeek News – May 9, 2018

The results of the biennial Powell community survey showed residents are satisfied with such services as police protection and snow removal, but concerned about the city’s financial health.

Powell City Council on May 1 heard the results of the 2018 Community Attitude Survey. Powell has conducted similar surveys every two years since 2008.

The survey was handled by Columbus-based Saperstein Associates, who called more than 7,600 unique cell and landline numbers. The majority — more than 4,200 — didn’t answer.

In all, 401 registered voters responded, spending an average of 19 minutes answering questions during February and March.

“This survey gives a community at large a quantifiable way to share opinions” and “provides a context for anecdotal information that you hear,” said Marty Saperstein, who oversaw the survey.

At least half of the respondents consider the city an “exceptional” place to live, and the majority — 75 percent — feel it is heading in the right direction.

Green space, community events, bike paths and parks, and the downtown area are among Powell’s strongest assets, the survey shows.

“Small-town atmosphere has always been Powell’s ace in the hole,” Saperstein said.

The overwhelming majority — 95 percent — are satisfied with the police department, and 99 percent think officers keep the city safe.

“The first responders are the LeBron James of civic officials,” Saperstein said.

Although most city departments and services were highly rated, only 60 percent said they are satisfied with how the city is managing its finances. That number is down from a high of 77 percent in 2014, Saperstein said.

An 18-member financial task force made up of residents from nine city neighborhoods is assessing Powell’s capital-improvement needs and revenue sources.

The panel could recommend council pursue an income-tax increase, among other options such as a bond issue or levy. The group is expected to make its final report to council in June.

When asked about supporting a tax increase, more than a quarter of respondents said they would not support any type of additional taxes — up six points from two years ago, Saperstein said.

Of those open to supporting a tax increase, 56 percent preferred an income tax over a property tax.

More than half of respondents said they are satisfied with efforts to manage traffic — up from just 34 percent in 2016 and the highest point in the history of the survey.

In 2016, the city launched its traffic-focused Keep Powell Moving initiative.

The survey results reflect the city’s efforts to “take to heart what’s in the survey and modify what we’re doing as a result,” said Tom Counts, vice mayor. “We have made significant traffic improvements over the last four years and the residents, I think, have noticed that.”

The next City Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at the Village Green Municipal Building, 47 Hall St.