Citizen Survey reveals positive views of Johnson City

Gary B. Gray • Updated Feb 14, 2017 at 9:52 PM

Findings within the 2016 Citizen Survey likely will play into Johnson City’s projected $245 million, five-year spending plan.

Results from 2012 and 2014 have been used as planning tools to guide future investments, including a reinvestment in roads and paving. The 2016 survey was mailed to 2,000 random households in October, with an online survey available as well, and it was found that 84 percent of respondents think Johnson City provides an excellent or good quality of life.

“It’s always encouraging to know that our citizens are happy here,” Budget Director Lora Grogg said. Grogg facilitates the survey in conjunction with the National Research Center. “More importantly, the survey serves as a guide for how and where we appropriate funds, based on what is most important to our citizens.”

So what did the citizens say is most important?

Transportation improvements topped the list, followed by tax incentives for new business development, improving downtown parking, increasing the diversity of retail development and increasing the number of athletic fields.

Respondents rated the city’s quality of life higher than the past two surveys, and 90 percent said they would recommend Johnson City as an excellent place to live and/or retire.

Safety was identified as a primary area of focus with 73 percent of respondents indicating a safe community is essential. Fifty-one percent of respondents also considered additional transportation improvements a priority.

Areas that have seen a significant increase in excellent or good ratings since the city began the every-other-year survey in 2012 include: storm drainage (43 to 70 percent), paths/walking trails (36 to 62 percent), welcoming citizen involvement (42 to 58 percent), and land use/planning/zoning (36 to 52 percent).

“These trends are an indication of how we have prioritized what our citizens told us needed improvement in that initial survey,” Grogg said. “It’s such an important tool in providing the best services possible and measuring our success.”

In general, residents were most pleased with the overall ease of travel and ease of travel by car, both of which were rated similarly to the national benchmark.

Residents were the least pleased with the ease of walking and ease of travel by bicycle, and these ratings were lower than elsewhere. Other relatively low-ranking categories include code enforcement, traffic signal timing, street repair and employment opportunities

All recreation, wellness, education and community engagement aspects were rated positively by a majority of residents and were similar to comparison communities. Several aspects trended upward from 2014 to 2016, including travel by bicycle, cost of living, the vibrant downtown/commercial area and the availability of affordable quality food.

More residents in 2016 said they voted in local elections, campaigned for an issue, cause or candidate, attended a city-sponsored event and expected the economy would have a positive impact on their income in the coming six months.

About three-quarters of residents were pleased with the customer service provided by Johnson City employees. About 60 percent gave positive ratings to the value of services for taxes paid, the overall direction the city was taking and the government acting in the best interest of Johnson City.

Excellent or good ratings were also high for overall appearance of Johnson City (76 percent), services provided by Johnson City (80 percent), and those who would recommend Johnson City as a place to live (90 percent).

Complete results from the survey can be found at: www.johnsoncitytn.org/budget.

Email Gary Gray at [email protected]. Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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