Survey results given weight

A survey of Waitaki residents could influence where the Waitaki District Council spends money in the future.

The results of the annual residents' survey conducted by Communitrak have just been released to the council, and already some councillors are saying the results should be used in the process of setting budgets in annual plans.

Waitaki deputy mayor Jim Hopkins said the survey contained significant information and provided substantial "signals" at variance with some council policies.

The survey measures satisfaction with council services and the performance of the mayor, councillors and council staff.

But one section deals with areas where residents want the council to spend more, less or about the same money.

Councillors consider submissions on this before setting the 2011-12 annual plan.

They should also weigh the survey results, Cr Hopkins said; along with those showing how often residents used council-provided facilities such as the North Otago Museum, Forrester Art Gallery and libraries.

A "huge number" surveyed said they did not use some facilities. Sixty-three percent said they did not visit the museum, 52% did not use the art gallery and 30% the libraries.

Cr Hopkins wanted staff to use data from the survey as part of consideration of the annual plan.

"We have to look at what it [the survey] is telling us ... Some of those results don't tally with our current policies," he said.

The survey contacted 400 Waitaki district residents 18 years or older between July 30 and August 8, divided up between the Ahuriri, Corriedale Oamaru and Waihemo wards. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.

Council and services that fared worst in terms of satisfaction were council roads, footpaths, public toilets, water supply, dog control and parking in central Oamaru.

Levels of satisfaction were compared with previous surveys and the national average.

In terms of where the council should spend more money, council roads (56% of those surveyed), business promotion (53%) and job promotion (47%) were the three highest priorities. They were followed by tourism promotion (36%), footpaths (33%), refuse disposal (33%) and public toilets (29%).

The lowest ranked services and facilities were Forrester Art Gallery (11%), public libraries (9%), Waitaki Aquatic Centre (7%) and the opera house - which has already had $10.3 million spent on it - (2%).

The North Otago Museum ranked better in the more money stakes, with 17% backing greater expenditure.



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