Fort Collins as a Community
Respondents express high regard for Fort Collins, overall, as a community. Although some variation in average ratings exists between the seven attributes measured, all are in the range of "good". Average rating scores have remained largely unchanged, compared to the 2001 scores. The only statistically significant change is in the rating of Fort Collins as a place to work, where the average rating declined from 73 in 2001 to 66 in 2003. This decline is probably a reflection of economic conditions and the frustrations that many citizens may experience in finding and maintaining employment.
The features that respondents find most attractive about Fort Collins seem to be the city’s location, size and people. Many respondents remarked that Fort Collins has been able to maintain a small-town "feel", while offering the material and cultural advantages of a larger city. By a rather large margin, traffic was the most frequently mentioned item that respondents dislike most about Fort Collins. The only other single item mentioned by a large proportion of respondents was the cost of living and housing.
In general, respondents judge the City as performing "well" or "average" in most areas. The one exception is in managing and relieving traffic congestion, where respondents gave the City a low rating. Despite the fact that respondents gave a low performance score for the City’s efforts to manage and relieve traffic congestion, this score is significantly improved over 2001. Respondents also gave a significantly higher average rating, compared to 2001, for the City’s efforts to provide affordable housing.
Performance scores are above "average" for most services. Traffic law enforcement, street repair and maintenance, and traffic signal operations fall into the "average" range. Performance ratings for all services remain statistically unchanged from their 2001 levels.
City Programs and Facilities
Nearly all programs and facilities are within the range of a "good" rating. TransFort received a rating in the very upper part of the "average" range. Most comments regarding TransFort mentioned limited routes and schedules. Performance ratings for all programs and facilities remain statistically unchanged from their 2001 levels. Comparison of importance ratings for programs and facilities with performance ratings suggests that the air quality program, youth/teen recreation programs and services, the recycling program, and bike lanes should receive relatively high management priority for maintaining or improving program performance and quality.
On average, respondents rated their most recent experiences with employees as "good" on all the service quality dimensions. Compared to 2001, respondent ratings of their most recent experiences with employees have not changed. On average, respondents with no direct employee contact also rated employees as "good" on the service quality dimensions, but these scores are somewhat lower than the scores given by respondents who had actual contact with an employee.
City Budget Priorities
Respondents provided input in setting long-term budget priorities by performing two tasks. In the first task, the questionnaire asked respondents to rate a list of items in terms of the priority that each one should be given for receiving budget dollars. The five-point rating scale went from "extremely low priority" to "extremely high priority". In the second task, the questionnaire asked respondents to pick only three items that should be given the highest priority in receiving budget dollars. Respondents selected these three items from the same list used in the first task. In both tasks, respondents gave affordable housing and youth recreation programs very high relative priority.
A statistically reliable majority of respondents believes that the City should have a "high" or "extremely high" level of involvement in maintaining economic viability in Fort Collins. However, a substantial percentage favors a more "moderate" role for the City.
Responses indicate statistically reliable, majority support for all of the options for maintaining economic viability, with the possible exception of efforts by the City to attract more visitors to the area. Slightly more than 50 percent of respondents either support or strongly support this option. However, considering that the 95 percent confidence interval is plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points, support in the population could be less than 50 percent.
A statistically reliable majority of respondents favors City encouragement of new non-retail, commercial development. However, opinions are about evenly divided on the issue of offering incentives. About 32 percent of respondents favor encouragement with incentives, and approximately 36 percent of respondents favor encouragement that does not include incentives. Respondents, who held opinions different from the statements measured, often expressed opposition to tax incentives or opposition to new commercial development that would be a burden on scarce resources.
Information about City Issues, Services and Programs
More than 70 percent of respondents are very frequent Internet users, while only 8 percent do not use it at all. Slightly more than one-half of respondents use the City’s website at least occasionally.
The Coloradoan is, by a large margin, the most widely used newspaper source of information regarding issues, services and programs. It is also the most widely used primary source of information overall. Other widely used, primary sources of information include "City News", the phone book, word of mouth, the "Recreator", the City's Internet website, television news, and newsletters or brochures from City departments.