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Results of Olathe's eighth annual DirectionFinder citizen satisfaction survey are in, and the city continued seeing dramatic improvement in citizen satisfaction.
When the survey was initially conducted in 2000, Olathe rated at or below average in nearly every category when compared to the overall metropolitan area. The 2007 survey shows Olathe at or near the top in nearly every major category covering city services. In addition, Olathe's satisfaction ratings significantly exceeded national averages in all but one category.
Once again, Olathe was a metropolitan leader in overall quality of city services, and of the eight major categories surveyed under city services, Olathe ranked at or near the top in six. Those were: police, fire and ambulance services; water and sewer utilities and stormwater runoff; parks and recreation; overall quality of customer service; and the effectiveness of city communication.
Olathe continued seeing significant improvements in overall citizen satisfaction when compared to the metropolitan area. Since the survey began, overall citizen satisfaction increased from a baseline of 100 to 120 while the same overall satisfaction index for the metropolitan area decreased from the 100 baseline to a score of 99. Olathe's overall satisfaction index stood at 117 in the last survey conducted in 2006 while the metropolitan average rose from 98.
In 2007, Olathe saw satisfaction improvements in the vast majority of categories with the most significant jump in traffic congestion management, (38%). Traffic improvements have been the clear citizen priority since the survey began, and the City Council has invested tens of millions of dollars to meet that demand. The satisfaction increase is largely attributed to the completion of the 127th Street overpass project.
According to City Manager Michael Wilkes, the continued improvement is the result of the City Council's strategic leadership and an incredibly dedicated staff. "Each year, we've been very pleased with our survey, but each year we've said we're not satisfied," said Wilkes. "The Council continues to apply resources to resident priorities and our staff continues it's commitment to doing things better, no matter how well we're doing today," he said. "We hold ourselves to a very high standard and residents should expect nothing less...DirectionFinder is an invaluable tool," he said.
According to ETC's Chris Tatham, Olathe's results continue to amaze him. He said, "For the past several years, I've cautioned that the city should not anticipate further improvements since they've already made incredible progress." He said, "The fact that satisfaction improved once again is pretty amazing." "No other city in the metro has seen this kind of improvement, and only a handful of the more than 150 cities we survey in the United States can come close to boasting this type of progress."
Traffic continues to be the resounding citizen priority followed by street and building maintenance.
At their Tuesday evening meeting, the Olathe City Council received a presentation of the annual citizen satisfaction survey for 2007 from ETC Institute, a national firm that conducts citizen satisfaction surveys for over 100 cities in America. The survey instrument, DirectionFinder, is a tool that tracks progress and provides benchmark data in the region and nationally. The survey completed by 1,218 residents, and it had a margin for error of +/- 2.8%.
Complete survey results, including analysis and maps, will be available on the City's website.