Grain Valley Mayor David Halphin wasn’t the least bit surprised Monday night.

Grain Valley Mayor David Halphin wasn’t the least bit surprised Monday night.

Almost six months after the Grain Valley Board of Aldermen approved a $9,125 contract for a citizen survey, city officials received the results of 459 respondents. The results for Halphin, he said, were hardly news.

“I can say by looking at the answers, responses and percentages that I’m not shocked by any of the answers and where we rank,” he said. “I’m glad that we’ve got it documented and that we’ve got a baseline that we can use in the future. I’m not ecstatic, but I think there’s some things we’re doing right and obviously, there’s some things we need to focus on.”

Karen Falk, senior project manager with the Olathe, Kan.-based ETC Institute, presented ETC’s 2009 Grain Valley results. The city joins more than 40 Kansas City communities that have utilized the company’s survey services.  

In relation to economic development, City Administrator Gary Bradley and Cathy Cox, assistant to the city administrator, have attended metropolitan-wide conventions aimed at attracting additional retail services. When asked “How often do you typically go outside of Grain Valley to shop?” 96 percent of those surveyed shop outside of city limits at least once a week.

For the overall value of their tax dollars, 34 percent of those surveyed expressed some level of satisfaction, while 32 percent expressed dissatisfaction. This response level, Falk said, is common.

“By the way, that category is never very high in any community,” she said. “If it’s lower here compared to other communities that are around, you may want to take a look at this one.” 

Citizens expressed most of their satisfaction related to Grain Valley’s qualities of fire protection, police services and parks and recreation. Areas of least satisfaction included enforcement of city codes and ordinances and the overall value of tax dollars. 

In a special question related to the municipalization of solid waste, 40 percent said they would support it, while 41 percent of those surveyed were opposed.

“They were very educated, but they didn’t help us come to a conclusion here,” Falk said. “If you have to make a decision on this soon, the fact is that it appears that your residents have left it up to you because they’re not pulling us one way or the other.”

Respondents contradicted themselves somewhat in one question. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they would support the city’s decision to require solid waste providers to offer curbside recycling services. However, 64 percent said they were unwilling to pay for such services. 

During the Feb. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting, the board adopted an emergency ordinance, 4-2, authorizing Bradley to enter into an agreement with the ETC Institute for professional services.

Ward 1 Alderman Terry Beebe and Ward 2 Alderman Mike Todd were opposed. Both stated at the time the city should continue utilizing in-house resources for surveys. In February, Bradley said a 2007 city survey cost about $6,500 in resources and city staff members’ time.

Following Falk’s presentation, none of the six aldermen expressed their opinions of the survey’s results, though Beebe said after the meeting she still believed using professional services was not worthy of taxpayers’ dollars.

As a retail business owner, Beebe said she also was concerned 96 percent of residents surveyed shop outside city limits at least once a week.

“Not at this time – not with the economy like it is; I think it was a waste to spend $9,000,” she said. “I think it was informative, but I didn’t really get to read all of it. It just irritates me. With the economy the way it is, why are we spending that kind of money on that?”   

More than 2,000 random sample surveys were administered by mail and telephone calls, with 459 households responding.

Falk said the survey could take place 100 times with different random samples and it would yield the same results 95 percent of the time with a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error.