Citizen Satisfaction in Olathe One of America's Highest

Olathe citizen satisfaction is at an all-time high based on the results of Olathe’s most recent citizen survey presented to the Olathe City Council Tuesday evening, February 21.

The survey, DirectionFinder®, is conducted by ETC Institute and includes responses from a random sample of 1,226 Olathe residents collected in the fall of 2011.  The survey has a +/-2.8% margin of error. Olathe is one of over 500 cities and counties in the United States using ETC to gauge citizen satisfaction and priorities.

According to Chris Tatham, ETC Institute Vice President, Olathe has gone from being average when the survey was first conducted in 2000 to one of America’s highest performing cities in terms of resident satisfaction.  He said, “Of all the cities we survey across the country, none have achieved such a dramatic turnaround in such a short time.”  Tatham attributed Olathe’s success to several factors including investing scarce resources in areas most important to residents and being open and transparent with City finances.

Tatham noted that Olathe is not only a metropolitan area leader in satisfaction, but he said Olathe is easily in the top 5% of all cities nationally.  He cited Olathe’s performance in what he termed the two most important categories, “overall quality of city services” and the “value residents feel they receive for their tax dollars”.  Olathe has the metropolitan area’s highest satisfaction level for overall quality of services at 92% while the Kansas City area rating is 54%, and the national average is 57% satisfaction.  Olathe resident satisfaction with value for tax dollars stands at 76% while the metropolitan area and national levels stand at 40% and 45% respectively.

Olathe ranks at the top in the Kansas City metropolitan area in ten of the major categories surveyed, including the overall quality of city services. The survey results showed Olathe’s overall satisfaction index increased from 130 in 2010 to a record 132 in 2011. Since 2000, Olathe’s composite satisfaction index has increased from a baseline of 100 to 132 for 2011.  Conversely, the metropolitan area’s composite index fell from 100 in 2000 to 92 in 2011.

Traffic flow and congestion management continue to be a top priority of residents for the future, along with maintenance of city streets, buildings, and facilities.  Traffic flow and maintenance have been the top two priorities since 2000, though traffic flow satisfaction has improved from 27% in 2000 to 62% in 2011.  This improvement is largely due to such investments as the 127th street overpass, the railroad grade separation, and the automated traffic management system.

According to Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland, the survey is a critical tool for the City to allocate scarce resources.  He said, “While we have significantly reduced staffing and cut expenses, overall satisfaction increased because the City Council was able to spend limited money in areas our taxpayers most want it invested.”  This was echoed by Tatham.  He said, “While a number of areas saw some decreases, overall satisfaction increased because the City actually improved in areas residents identified as most important.”

Tatham cited the City’s shift in resources for snow plowing as a prime example.  The City invested additional resources in residential streets; a priority identified in the 2010 survey.  As a result, satisfaction with plowing on major streets saw a slight reduction while satisfaction with residential snow plowing saw a significant increase, improving overall satisfaction with snow plowing.

A copy of the ETC Institute presentation and complete survey results are available in the Accountable Government section/