ZEPHYRHILLS — Crime prevention and traffic congestion are the biggest challenges facing the city, a recent citizen satisfaction survey concludes.
About one-third of those responding to the survey indicated they would like a public swimming pool in Zephyrhills; but more than half of the respondents said they would not want to pay higher property taxes to build one.
University of South Florida graduate students Sea Marshall-Barley and Susan Obarski of the School of Public Affairs presented the results. They said the survey was sent to 1,200 random addresses selected from the city’s utility billing database.
The survey was returned by 340 people, which represents a 28.3 percent response rate. Overall, 85 percent or more of respondents who gave an opinion are satisfied with the mayor, city council, city manager and local government.
Marshall-Barley and Obarski pointed out the survey was conducted when three former city officials still were in office: Danny Burgess was mayor, Jim Drumm was city manager and Jodi Wilkeson was a city council member.
A citizen satisfaction survey has been conducted since 2007. Most questions on the latest tally were similar to those in previous years, but this year there were additional questions concerning city amenities. One asked if citizens would support a .25-percent millage rate increase to maintain and operate a public pool; another asked what city amenities people used or visited in 2013; and a third asked what amenities respondents would like to see provided.
Fifty-seven percent of those responding said they would not be willing to have the millage rate increase to operate a public pool. Zephyr Park was named as the most-used amenity, with 54 percent. The library followed at 35 percent, and Alice Hall Community Center at 28 percent. Thirty-one percent said they would like to see a public pool run by the city, followed by a performing arts center at 22 percent and a larger community center at 13 percent.
Responding to a question asking if citizens would support a property tax increase to maintain city services at current levels, 55 percent said no.
Fire-Rescue received the highest satisfaction rate among the city departments with 98 percent saying service was excellent or good. Garbage collection followed with 96 percent. Library services and parks and recreation tied at 94 percent. Among other departments, the police department received 85 percent and code enforcement came in last with 68 percent.
Marshall-Barley and Obarski noted not all departments were rated by all respondents and some are not as visible, which could affect the outcome of approval ratings.
The full report of the survey is available on the City of Zephyrhills website.