The economic downturn can take some of the blame for a
drop in public satisfaction with the work of the Dunedin City
Council, Mayor Dave Cull says.
The council yesterday unveiled the results of the 2012
residents' opinion survey, which asked 4500 residents for
their views on the council and the city and attracted 780
The results showed overall public satisfaction with the
council was down 7 percentage points from last year, to 39%,
while overall dissatisfaction was up 9 percentage points, to
The longer-term trend - stretching back to 2006 - remained
flat, and this year's results still represented an
improvement on two years ago, when the percentage of
dissatisfied people (38%) outweighed those who were satisfied
However, some of this year's biggest individual drops in
satisfaction levels were found in economic areas, the results
That included satisfaction with the council's efforts to
attract new businesses and jobs (20%, down 6 percentage
points), support for the development of businesses and jobs
(26%, down 6 percentage points), and perceptions of Dunedin
as a thriving city (24%, down 5 percentage points).
The need to attract more businesses also topped a list of
items respondents wanted to change in Dunedin, while
encouraging business and economic development came third in a
top-five list of priorities for the coming year.
The council last year released figures showing 186 companies
had received council grants worth more than $2.36 million
since 2005, resulting in 416 new jobs and $44 million in
Mr Cull yesterday told media the latest survey results
reflected the state of the economy nationwide as much as the
council's efforts, and the results would be mirrored in other
council surveys across New Zealand.
He also believed the results underscored the need to work
harder to communicate with the community the council's "value
proposition" - what residents got for their rates.
"The value proposition from councils, in terms of what they
provide the community and at what cost, I believe is not
Council chief executive Paul Orders said the results also
underscored the motives behind the new economic development
strategy adopted by the council - and its partners - last
A "key rationale" for the strategy was an acknowledgement
there was room for improvement, and it was now just starting
to be rolled out, he said.
The survey, run annually since 1994, was conducted again this
year by Christchurch company Research First, and also
included a separate online survey - for comparison - which
attracted 119 responses.
Results of the postal survey showed the city's facilities
continued to score well. Dunedin Botanic Garden, city
libraries and Otago Museum all scored more than 90%
satisfaction, and the Edgar Centre - in 15th place - scored
The Forsyth Barr Stadium, featuring for the first time,
scored 69% - 4% higher than the last mark for Carisbrook.
Contact with community board members (47%, up 12%),
perceptions of Dunedin as a safe city (49%, up 8%) and
kerbside recycling (88%, up 7%) were all big improvers,
followed by contact with councillors and Mr Cull (45%, up 5%)
in seventh place.
The look and feel of the South Dunedin retail area (16%, up
2%) again attracted the lowest satisfaction score. Processing
building consent applications (24%, down 1%) and the
suitability of roads for cyclists (25%, down 1%) also
recorded low scores.
The biggest declines were recorded in the look and feel of
the most convenient retail centre (62%, down 7%), followed by
the overall quality of information held by the council (49%,
down 7%) and the condition of footpaths (50%, down 7%).
Mr Cull believed the overall results were "pretty steady",
and he was pleased the numbers reflected work in key areas,
including efforts to improve contact between ratepayers and
Carl Davidson, of Research First, said the economic context
for this year's survey was clear in the results, but
residents still seemed generally satisfied.
"These aren't rock-star results, but these are definitely