GREENWICH — Satisfaction with town services, including the public schools and police and fire protection, is up according to a new survey of Greenwich residents.
The results of the 2018 Town of Greenwich Resident Satisfaction Survey were released this week, showing overall satisfaction has increased since 2016, continuing an upward trend from 2014.
The survey also found increases in satisfaction with other town departments, including building and zoning, while people are happier with the process for acquiring park and beach passes from the town Department of Parks and Recreation.
“I place great value on these results, as I have when the two previous surveys were conducted,” First Selectman Peter Tesei said. “The survey results indicate there is an upward trend in residents’ satisfaction as the town continues to listen to residents’ concerns and improves upon those areas.”
The findings come before what is expected to be a difficult 2019-20 municipal budget process. The Board of Estimate and Taxation has issued budget guidelines calling for the town’s operating budget to go up no more than 1 percent. The finance board has asked all town departments, including schools, to be ready to discuss what a 1 percent budget reduction might mean to their ability to deliver services.
The satisfaction survey is conducted every two years. The town used a new contractor, GreatBlue Research Inc., this year, but officials said the survey’s design was “altered as minimally as possible” to make sure it was comparable to past results.
Data was collected from 400 respondents, reached via random phone numbers over land lines and cellular phones. All respondents were town residents at least 18-years-old.
They were asked about their satisfaction in general, with specific departments and public schools, and how they would rate the value of their tax dollars. Satisfaction was rated on a scale of one to seven.
Overall town services came in at a mean of 6.01, up from 5.71 in 2016 and of 5.65 in 2014. Satisfaction with how town tax dollars are used rated 5.81, up from 2016’s 5.41 and 2014’s 5.32.
Town public schools earned a mean score of 5.94, up from 5.72 in 2016 and 5.49 in 2014.
Residents rated the time it takes to get seasonal park and beach passes at 5.62, accuracy of information from the Parks and Recreation Department at 6.38, and quality of help from department employees at 6.25. All were increases.
Building and zoning departments also saw increases. Inland Wetlands and Watercourses dipped in satisfaction with accuracy of information from 4.9 to 4.8, and with quality of help from 4.16 to 4.14. Satisfaction with the amount of time spent at the department rose to 4.14 from 3.3.
One finding highlighted by GreatBlue Research showed residents ages 18-39 gave high marks for how tax dollars are spent but registered lower satisfaction with public education.
“This suggests that younger respondents may like to see more of their tax dollars allocated on education as they have a higher likelihood to have children in the home,” the survey’s report said.
On Wednesday, Tesei said every town department was being sent the survey results.
“Upon reviewing, each department is expected to build upon their successes as the basis for continued improvement,” Tesei said.
He credited departments for making focused efforts in customer service.
“Regardless of the department, there is always room for improvement whether it be through further streamlining efficiencies and processes or improving communications,” Tesei said.