Independence has improved in the public's eye since 2000.

Residents in Independence are more satisfied with city services than they were eight years ago.

According to a citizens’ survey conducted by the ETC Institute, the overall quality of services has improved dramatically since 2000 in major categories such as police and fire services, water/sewer/ electric utilities/, parks and recreation, stormwater management, customer service, public communication and maintenance of city streets and buildings.

ETC Vice President Chris Tatham said that in 2000 the overall satisfaction with city services, compared with other community surveys conducted by ETC, were below average in six of the seven areas mentioned above. As of October – when the current survey was conducted – services were above average in four of the same seven areas.

 “You have made a lot of investment (in the city’s infrastructure) and this is where you are today,” Tatham told the Independence City Council Monday. “You’ve made significant progress in all areas.”

Independence Mayor Don Reimal said he believed the marked improvement in city services was the result of several sales tax initiatives voted on by residents in recent years – the public safety, stormwater, parks and street sales taxes chief among them.

“The public has confidence in us and has given us the ability through special taxes to meet their concerns,” Reimal said. “It is very important that they understand that they have control through those special taxes.”

On the flip side, the survey suggested that public safety is an emerging issue. In 2000, the city was below average in seven of eight public safety categories, including quality of fire protection, police personnel response times, police protection, crime prevention and police visibility. Eight years later, the city is above average in three of the eight categories, which also includes traffic law enforcement, animal control and police visibility in retail areas

“Public safety is something that we need to continue to focus on,” said Council Member Myron Paris. “A lot of people out there feel that way.”

Tatham noted survey findings concluded the overall satisfaction with city services continues to improve, a composite satisfaction index is up 14 points since 2000, including significant improvements in stormwater retention, maintenance and parks and recreation. Tatham also noted the city has done an excellent job prioritizing investments in areas that are most important to residents.

“In the past eight years you have gone from below average to above average,” Tatham said. “That has not happened by accident.”

The survey was the fifth time the city administered the DirectionFinder Survey through ETC. The seven-page survey was mailed at random to 2,400 Independence households. Of the 2,400 households that received the survey, a total of 682 surveys were completed and returned. The results have a 95 percent confidence with a precision of at least +/- 3.7 percent.

The survey was also conducted in the fall of 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.