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Cape residents give city mixed marks on Citizens’ Survey

By Staff | Jun 5, 2009

Cape Coral’s government received mixed reviews from residents who responded to the 2009 Citizens’ Survey.
Released last week, the results show residents’ overall rating of the city rose, but mistrust of the government grew and economic indicators fell.
Sixty-three percent of respondents gave the Cape’s overall quality of life a rating of “excellent” or “good,” compared to 61 percent who gave such a rating in 2008.
Measures of public trust dipped from last year’s survey with less respondents impressed with the city’s overall direction, which fell from 33 percent to 29 percent; the job local government does at welcoming citizen involvement, which fell from 35 percent to 28 percent; the job local government does at listening to citizens, which fell from 21 percent to 15 percent; and the overall image or reputation of the Cape, which fell from 49 percent to 44 percent.
Citizen rankings of employment opportunities in the city continued to drop. Eight percent of residents thought employment opportunities in the Cape were “excellent” or “good,” down from 17 percent last year and 37 percent in 2005.
The percentage of respondents with a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” outlook on their own economic future rose to 12 percent, up from last year’s figure of 6 percent.
Mayor Jim Burch said the results are relatively good considering the Cape’s dire economic straits.
“It really wasn’t all that bad. We’re in a very, very severe period economically, and people are more likely to have a negative opinion of city government,” he said.
Burch was buoyed by some of the results, pointing to the 70 percent who said they would recommend living in Cape Coral and the 73 percent who said they would remain in the Cape for the next five years.
He admitted though that the deepening mistrust of government is troublesome.
“Obviously the public trust issue is a very, very big issue, and we need to work on that better and we need to communicate better,” Burch said.
Confronting a tight budget next year, the survey results offered no clear direction to council members looking to cut one city department or another.
While at least 50 percent of respondents said they support a tax increase to maintain or improve fire services, road improvements and economic development, 72 percent do not want any increase in taxes.
“If you asked me if I wanted a tax increase, I would tell you no,” Burch said. “But if you told people the consequences in terms of people, places and things in the city, then I think you’d get different answers.”