Zephyrhills satisfaction survey shows conflicting opinions
ZEPHYRHILLS - Residents opposed a property tax increase in a city survey, but a majority of respondents welcomed the reopening of the Hercules Park pool, according to the 2013 Zephyrhills Citizen Satisfaction Survey results. Zephyrhills City Manager Jim Drumm presented the results of the survey to the city council this week. The survey was taken by sending 13 questions to 1,200 customers of the city’s water department. The residents were selected at random. City officials said 417 surveys were returned, a response rate of 34.7 percent. The survey’s question on a property tax increase read:“Each year it costs more for the City of Zephyrhills to provide the same level of services. Would you support a property tax increase to maintain current levels of service?” Survey results showed that 56.4 percent of those responding were opposed to a property tax increase, with 37.2 percent supporting an increase to maintain services. Twenty-seven people, or 6.4 percent, gave no answer. The Hercules Park pool question read: “Would you be in support of the City acquiring and operating the former Pasco County-owned park, known as Hercules Park, including the public pool if it meant there could be on-going additional expense to the City beyond the pool admission fees to operate it? In the survey, 44.6 percent responded favorably to the question and 36.9 percent were against acquiring and operating the park and pool. Seventy-seven respondents, or 18.5 percent, did not respond to the question. Drumm said that a large percentage of people seemed willing to spend more money to acquire and run the pool, yet another majority opposed a tax increase just to maintain services. The pool is located in the closed Hercules Park on County Road 54 East. Originally operated by the county, it was East Pasco’s only public pool. It was closed in 2011 as a cost-saving measure. The pool was scheduled to close in 2010, until the nonprofit Zephyrhills Police Athletic League signed a contract to operate the pool. Pasco County terminated the contract after ZPAL was unable to pay the bills to keep the pool open. The survey also had two questions about recycling. One asked if respondents would use a recycling drop-off point for glass, aluminum, paper and other recyclables and the other asked if they would be more likely to recycle if the city provided curbside bins. Curbside recycling bins were popular with respondents, with 73.4 percent saying they would use them compared with 22.3 percent who said they wouldn’t. Fewer people were in favor of a drop-off point, with 57.1 percent saying they would use a drop-off point and 38.6 saying they would not. About 4.3 percent did not answer both questions. The city council had a 54.4 percent approval rating among survey respondents, an increase from 47.5 percent last year. Respondents dissatisfied with the council decreased from 7.9 percent in 2012 to 4.3 percent this year, according to the survey. Residents who answered “no opinion” totaled 36.2 percent, while 5.1 percent did not answer the question. The survey was conducted by students in the public administration graduate program at the University of South Florida. Former Zephyrhills city manager Steve Spina is a professor in the program.