Survey Says: Camas residents satisfied with most city services

First-responders, parks and recreation get highest marks

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A recent survey of Camas residents is providing city leaders with some valuable insights into how community members view certain aspects of city services.

“It was mostly excellent,” Camas City Administrator Pete Capell told Camas City Council members and Camas Mayor Scott Higgins Monday evening, at the council’s work session. “Of those who responded, 81 percent were very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of services.”

City leaders approved the $16,000 community survey last year in an effort to better guide the long-term strategic plan the city council has been working on for several months. Consultants from ETC Institute sent the six-page survey to more than 1,000 randomly selected Camas residents with the hope of getting 400 responses back. In the end, 705 residents filled out the survey and sent it back to ETC and Capell said the responses showed a good cross-section of Camas, with an especially good mix of ages.

Community members who filled out the survey and sent it back seemed to be especially pleased with the level of service among Camas’ first-responders and with the city’s parks and recreation services: with 88 percent saying they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the quality of local fire protection and rescue services and 80 percent stating high levels of satisfaction with “the appearance and maintenance of existing parks.”

According to ETC, “satisfaction ratings for the city of Camas rated the same as or above the U.S. average in 33 of the 45 areas that were assessed.” The city actually rated “signficantly higher” than other U.S. cities in 26 of the 45 areas. For example, when asked to rate the “quality of customer service” they receive from city employees, 80 percent of Camas survey respondents said they were satisfied with the customer service versus only 47 percent nationwide. The areas that rated lower than other parts of the country included the city’s social media messaging, the quality of the city’s website, how well the city is managin growth and development and street maintenance — on major roads as well as on neighborhood streets.

Capell said much of the dissatisfaction with street maintenanance may be due to the particularly rough winter and its effect on area roads. He added that the city has been working to fill potholes left over from the winter storms during the recent sunny weather. City leaders will know if their efforts to correct some of the “lower areas” on the survey have been successful when they send the survey out again in 2019.

Part of the survey was designed to gauge the public’s interest in helping fund things like street maintenance and new open spaces. “Respondents were informed that the city of Camas spends $700,000 per year to maintain pavement on city streets, and the City Council could enact a new $20 annual vehicle license tab renewal fee to fund more street pavement maintenance, new road projects, or both,” ETC consultants stated in their executive summary report to the Camas City Council. “Knowing this, respondents were asked to indicate, from a list of four statements, which statement reflects their support for a new $20 (tab fee).”

No statement received a vast majority of votes, but 29 percent said they would support the tab fee if the city used the money for just pavement maintenance. Another 28 percent said they would support it if the money went toward pavement maintenance and new road projects and 3 percent supported using the tab fee funds for new road projects only, showing city leaders that the majority of residents might be in favor of a vehicle license tab renewal fee if their money helped maintain streets in Camas.