The survey, which was sent out by the National Research Center in March, was completed by 222 residents and consisted of 40 questions asking citizens to rate various aspects of life in Sanford including community quality, environmental sustainability, community inclusiveness, community design, recreation and wellness, civic engagement, public safety, and public trust.
The survey was sent randomly to 1,200 residents of Sanford.
According to the results Sanford saw the highest ratings in areas like: ease of car travel; shopping opportunities; garbage collection; city parks and city employees. The city’s lowest ratings were in areas like: sense of community; overall image or reputation of Sanford; overall appearance of Sanford; overall quality of life in Sanford; crime prevention; economic development; and feelings of safety.
Public Information Officer Lisa Mosca said the negative results might have been impacted by the timing of the survey’s release. The survey was sent to residents near the height of publicity surrounding the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman incident – an event that brought national media attention to the city.
Mosca said, “It is fair to say that the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation did reflect in our results.”
In an effort to gain unbiased results the deadline for completion of the survey was extended. Mosca said, however, that low ratings in areas such as police, crime and safety still show the effect of the Martin/Zimmerman case on the results.
The survey was administered by the National Research Center and used a template – The National Citizen Survey – to send to residents. According to their website the survey has been administered more than 200 times in 41 states.
Using a national benchmark based on results from around the country, the National Research Center also scored the City of Sanford on the overall quality of the city’s services.
According to the results Sanford was below the benchmark in almost every category. The only categories that were “similar to benchmark” were garbage collection, storm drainage and street repair.
The results from this year’s survey were also compared to a survey sent to residents in 2008. The city saw an increase in satisfaction in ease of car travel, storm drainage, city parks, recreation programs, recreation centers and services to low-income people.
Decreases in satisfaction were seen in ease of walking, police services, overall direction Sanford is taking, citizen involvement in city government, and over quality of services provided by the City of Sanford.
Mosca said the city is already addressing several of the issues with the hiring of a public information for the police department and city hall, as well as the overhaul in the police department with the introduction of a new chief.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he also believed the city was moving in the correct direction, but overall there still needed to be changes.
“It does indicate to us areas we need to improve on,” said Bonaparte. “The bottom line is we have work to do.”