Despite a few low marks, opinions largely unchanged in new city survey

Confidence in city government is still poor among Bainbridge Island residents, according to the results of a citizen survey released Thursday by Bainbridge officials.

The new survey is the first done in two years, and residents’ views on the overall direction of city governance has also dipped slightly during that time span, from an overall positive rating of 43 percent to 41 percent.

Even so, Islanders who participated in the survey gave high marks for living on Bainbridge.

Nearly all residents polled said the quality of life on the island was excellent or good, and the numbers were better than the national average.

Overall quality of life received an excellent/good rating from 95 percent in 2017, which remained unchanged from the 2015 survey.

As a place to live, Bainbridge was rated at 97 percent (the same as in 2015).

As a place to retire, however, that rating dropped to 75 percent (which was also a slight decline from the 76 percent seen in the survey two years ago).

The poll, conducted by the National Citizen Survey, was conducted earlier this year and sampled the opinions of 578 residents. The survey had a margin of error of 4 percent.

According to the 2015 results, just 35 percent of respondents had a positive response when asked about their confidence in city government.

The number stayed unchanged in the 2017 survey at 35 percent.

The city’s ratings on the overall direction of city government and confidence in city hall was lower than the national benchmark of other cities surveyed, according to the National Citizen Survey.

There were some bright spots for the city of Bainbridge Island in the new survey, however.

Positive responses jumped to 54 percent (from 47 percent in 2015) when residents were asked if the city welcomes citizen involvement.

More residents also thought the city has been more honest, with that figure climbing to 46 percent from 43 percent two years ago.

Some familiar topics also got bad grades in terms of positive responses, including:

• Travel by public transportation, 34 percent;

• Public parking, 33 percent;

• Affordable quality housing, 12 percent;

• Cost of living, 16 percent;

• Employment opportunities, 17 percent;

• Land use, planning and zoning, 32 percent; and

• Street repair, 37 percent.

Overall, city services were rated positively by seven in 10 residents.

That overall view, however, also includes ratings on areas not under the influence of city government, including fire (98 percent positive) and EMS services (96 percent), garbage collection (90 percent) and recycling (85 percent), recreation programs (90 percent) and public libraries (94 percent).

The overall feeling of safety hit 98 percent in excellent/good responses.

According to the National Citizen Survey for Bainbridge, overall ratings for 2017 were generally stable.

Of the 133 items that could be compared in the latest survey to prior polls, 119 were rated similarly in 2015 and 2017, while seven issues showed a decrease in ratings and seven showed an increase.

Ratings that declined included health services (down to 66 percent excellent/good responses from 74 percent in 2015), and health care (down to 58 percent excellent/good responses from 68 percent in 2015).

The survey results are available on the city’s website at http://ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us/.

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