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2008 Citizen Survey

Key Findings

Overview

Overall, the City of Fort Collins is doing well with a majority of residents continuing to give high marks for quality of life and City services. Most ratings have remained stable over time and the majority of Fort Collins ratings were above the benchmarks set across the nation and in the Front Range. While strong ratings were seen in Fort Collins, the areas of transportation, economic health and public trust provide opportunities for strengthening resident appreciation of local services and community quality.

QUALITY OF LIFE, COMMUNITY, AND NEIGHBORHOODS

A majority of survey respondents gave high marks to their overall quality of life and to Fort Collins as a place to live, giving ratings higher than those given by residents in other jurisdictions across the nation. Fort Collins as a place to live received more positive ratings in 2008 than in 2006. Residents also provided positive feedback about the city as a place to raise children, attend college and the overall safety of residents.

While residents gave lower ratings to the availability of affordable quality housing and the availability and diversity of job opportunities than to other community characteristics, these characteristics were assessed higher than or similar to ratings given in other jurisdictions across the country and in the Front Range. The availability of affordable quality housing received more favorable ratings in 2008 than in 2006.

Residents gave good ratings to their neighborhood as a place to live, which was similar to the national and Front Range comparisons. However, neighborhoods as places to raise children received lower ratings in 2008 than in 2006. Still neighborhood cohesiveness was significant. Nearly all respondents reported knowing at least one of their neighbors by name and, on average, knew nine neighbors by name. More than half of the residents spoke with their neighbors once a week or more.

Those living in the northwest and northeast parts of the city were more likely to give lower ratings to the city as a place to live, neighborhood as a place to live, the overall safety of residents, the availability and diversity of job opportunities, availability of quality healthcare, and the city as a place to work than residents living in other geographic areas.

COMMUNITY SAFETY

Generally, residents reported feeling safe throughout the city. Respondents felt most safe in their neighborhood and in the downtown during the day, which received ratings above the national and Front Range benchmarks. While survey respondents felt less safe on trails in Fort Collins and downtown at night, ratings of safety downtown at night were higher than ratings given by residents in other cities and counties across the nation and in the Front Range. On average, results remained consistent from 2006 to 2008.

Residents were provided a list of 11 safety and code enforcement services and asked to evaluate the quality of each. A strong majority of respondents gave favorable assessments to the quality of fire services, which were similar to the national and Front Range benchmarks as well as to ratings from previous survey years.

Fort Collins residents were satisfied with police services, with all five services receiving a rating of “good” or better by about two-thirds of respondents. However, overall police services was given a rating below the national and Front Range benchmark, which suggests this could be a potential area of exploration for the City.

Survey respondents residing in the northeast area of the city gave lower ratings to safety in their neighborhood during the day than did those living in other areas. Residents living in detached housing units tended to give less positive ratings to safety services than those living in attached housing units or group quarters. Those living in the northeast part of the city gave less favorable ratings to crime prevention and police patrols than did those residing in the other areas.

THE ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORTATION, AND RECREATION AND CULTURE

Residents felt positively about the quality of the environment in Fort Collins. Drinking water quality and the community’s visual attractiveness received the highest ratings and were above both the national and Front Range benchmarks. In 2008, residents gave more favorable ratings to the community’s visual attractiveness, the overall quality of the environment, air quality and recycling programs than did residents in 2006. Overall, those who were full- or part-time students tended to give higher ratings to the environment than did residents who were not students.

While aspects of transportation received some of the lowest ratings on the survey, a majority of the transportation ratings were above the national benchmark and about half were above the Front Range average. Residents were most pleased with the ease of traveling by bicycle in the city, an increase from 2006 ratings. In 2008, a majority of respondents felt that Fort Collins was a walkable city, which was an increase from 2006. The lowest quality ratings were given to the availability of parking downtown and traffic congestion; however both were rated above the national average. Respondents residing in the northeast part of the city gave considerably lower ratings to the ease of traveling by public transportation and the availability of parking downtown than did residents living in other areas.

Overall, Fort Collins residents were pleased with the recreational and cultural opportunities provided by the City. Recreation trails, natural areas and open space, parks, and the Garden on Spring Creek received the highest ratings, all of which were above the national benchmark (except for Garden on Spring Creek for which no comparisons were available). Ratings given to recreation trails and natural areas and open space also were higher than the Front Range comparison, except for parks which was similar. Natural areas and open space and parks were given higher ratings in 2008 than in 2006. Youth/teen recreation programs overall and the Fort Collins Museum were given the lowest assessments, although they still received evaluations of “good” or better by twothirds or more of respondents. Generally, survey respondents living in the southwest part of the city gave more positive feedback about parks, recreational and cultural programs and facilities than did residents living in other geographic areas.

CITY SERVICES

For the first time in 2008, survey respondents were asked to rate the overall quality of City services. Three-quarters of residents felt the overall quality of services was “very good” or “good,” which was similar to ratings provided by residents in other jurisdictions across the nation and in the Front Range.

A key driver analysis was conducted to help focus service improvement efforts on those services that most influence residents’ perceptions (key drivers) about overall city service quality. For 2008, four services were identified as key drivers of overall City service ratings: adult recreation programs, recycling programs, the City website, and overall police services. Recycling programs and the City website were rated above the national benchmark, adult recreation programs was similar to the benchmark and police services were rated lower than the national average. Recycling programs was the only key driver to change over time, receiving a higher rating in 2008 than in 2006. Because overall police services was both a key driver and rated lower than the national benchmark, this may offer an important area for further study or intervention. In addition, adult recreation programs overall also could be a potential area of focus as it was a key driver and rated similar to the national benchmark and below the Front Range.

ECONOMIC HEALTH

Survey results showed that residents felt uncertain about the economic health of the City. While a slight majority reported that the overall support of businesses in Fort Collins was “good” or better, less than half felt positively about the overall economic health and overall jobs growth in the city. The overall support of businesses was given ratings higher than the national benchmark and jobs growth received a score below the national and Front Range benchmark.

Residents living in Fort Collins for more than 10 years tended to give lower ratings to the City’s support of business, jobs growth, and the overall economic health in the city than those who resided in the city for 10 years or less. Full-time or part-time students were more likely to give positive ratings to the economy than were non-students.

CITY GOVERNMENT

In general, ratings of public trust of the City government were low, although 2008 evaluations were higher than those given in 2006. Residents felt most positively about the job the City does at informing citizens and at welcoming citizen involvement. The lowest ratings were given to the job the City does at listening to citizens and managing and planning for growth. Where comparisons were available to the nation and Front Range, most were below the benchmark except for the job the City does at informing citizens, which was above the nation, and the job the City does at listening to citizens, which was similar to the Front Range. Those residing in Fort Collins for five years or less were more likely to give favorable ratings to aspects of public trust than were those who lived in the city for more than five years.

Fewer residents reported having contact with City employees in 2008 than in 2006. Ratings of employee characteristics have remained stable over time. Those who had contact with a City employee felt most positively about the employee’s courtesy and knowledge; however both received ratings lower than those in other jurisdictions across the country and in the Front Range.

POLICY TOPICS

When asked to assess City budget priorities, overall, the majority of residents felt that the same effort as has been expended should be made toward the environment; neighborhoods; safety; cultural, recreational, and educational opportunities, and the general government, but more effort should be put toward the economy and transportation. This view was confirmed by residents’ evaluations of transportation and economic health, which received some of the lowest ratings in the survey. When budget priorities in 2008 were compared to those in 2006, generally, residents provided similar direction.

Respondents living in detached housing units were more likely to feel that more effort should be given to the economy, environment, and to transportation than did those who lived in attached dwellings or group quarters. Residents living in the northwest part of the city were more likely to feel that more effort should be placed towards neighborhoods and cultural, recreational and educational opportunities than did those living in other parts of the city.

New to the 2008 survey was a follow-up question to the assessment of budget priorities asking residents whether or not they supported or opposed two different funding options to cover budget shortfalls. A majority of respondents supported seeking additional funding for these shortfalls, and opposed reducing the level of these services or other services to address budget shortfalls.