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Council hits mark with customer satisfaction

Thursday, 21st January, 2010

* The new footpath and bikeway around Sturt Park has been a hit but locals would like Council to improve general footpath maintenance, according to a survey of 300 locals. * The new footpath and bikeway around Sturt Park has been a hit but locals would like Council to improve general footpath maintenance, according to a survey of 300 locals.

Life under a City Council administrator appears to have been a happy one for the majority of local residents, with the public showing an increased satisfaction with Council for the third year running.

A recent community satisfaction survey has shown that Council's community satisfaction rating has continued to improve in a number of areas over a number of years. Council's General Manager, Frank Zaknich, said that Council regularly sought to examine community attitudes and satisfaction across a broad range of issues to help with the development of future planning.

"The report provides an insight into residents' expectations, their perceptions of their service experience, the importance they attach to specific Council services and their satisfaction level with those services," Mr Zaknich said. Conducted by Micromex Research, the results of a random survey of 300 residents, show that Council is performing well and meeting residents' priorities and also identifies areas for improvement.

Areas of greatest priority included footpaths, road maintenance and weed control, while bush regeneration, public toilets and litter were largely believed to be well handled. Micromex Research is an independent research company that has considerable experience with surveying for local government. Respondents were chosen through a computer-based random selection process.

Areas covered in the survey include, but are not limited to, customer service, council governance, council facilities and services, the environment, lifestyle, development and recreation.

The report also compared the results with the Council commissioned research conducted by the same company in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Comparing the results of the 2009 research to 2008, satisfaction had increased significantly for four of the 44 services (swimming pools, stormwater drainage, parking, and emergency services) and decreased for only one of the services (parks and reserves).

Overall satisfaction with Council's performance had increased from 2008 and is above the developed Local Government Association (LGA) benchmark. In total, 72 per cent of respondents were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Council's performance and 12 per cent expressed dissatisfaction. The researchers said that this level of dissatisfaction is very low in their experience.

The research indicated higher levels of dissatisfaction (about one quarter) with the way contact with Council is handled, however.

"Council will be conducting further research into this area to identify more closely the reasons for dissatisfaction, as well as opportunities for improvement," said Mr Zaknich.

Despite this shortfall, Mr Zaknich said community satisfaction with the way Council consults with residents is also trending upwards from previous research, and is above the developed LGA benchmark. He said all information gained from the survey would be used to improve delivery of Council's services.

"This document is part of the platform used to guide and inform Council in the areas of improving the service Council provides to the ratepayers and community of Broken Hill, future planning, service and budget provision."

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