The two most important issues facing Oak Creek? Taxes and development. That and much, much more came out of a wide-ranging survey filled out by more than 500 residents.
The survey, conducted by Cobalt Community Research, of 1,500 residents in November and December. It covered a broad range of topics, from services like police and inspection, to taxes and businesses. It also asked a question about where to locate a new city hall and library.
533 people returned the survey—a 35 percent response rate that's considered very strong and gave city officials a detailed look at how Oak Creek residents view the community.
The result: Mostly positive. Oak Creek programs and services generally scored well compared to other communities in the state, region and country, but there is still work to be done, said City Administrator Gerald Peterson said.
A glance at the results
In many categories, Oak Creek scored comparatively well. Police, fire and emergency and utility services were all above average. Government management - trustworthy leaders, well-trained employees, effective communication - also scored high.
In the ongoing debate about where city hall and the library should be located, the strongest view (by a small margin) was that it didn't matter where they were located, just don't raise taxes or have it impact services. Leaving the buildings at Puetz and Howell was the second-highest ranked option.
Some of the lowest scores in the survey were community events. The survey didn't make clear exactly the types of events residents want, but "range of cultural offerings" and "quality sporting events" were rated the lowest. Officials noted that could potentially be addressed through the Delphi redevelopment project.
Other notable responses from the survey:
- What shopping or service businesses would you like to see more of? Restaurants.
- What streets are in special need of maintenance? No surprise: 13th Street, specifically the portion south of Rawson Avenue.
- A majority of residents did not support expanded public transportation - about 55 percent to 45 percent.
- 40 percent would support combining dispatch services with another community as a budgetary action, the most out of any municipal service. (Discussions to that effect have been ongoing.)
- 37 percent would support privatizing or outsourcing recycling collection as a budgetary action, the most out of any municipal service. (City officials have investigated doing so.)
The complete results can be found on the city's website.
Where to go from here
The next step for Oak Creek is to dive into the information and come up with ways to implement changes.
"Overall, I think Oak Creek fared very well," Peterson said after the results were presented to the Common Council on Tuesday. "Our residents rate our services generally higher than other residents in this state, the Midwest and through the country, so I think that's a very good result.
"Economic development seems to be a key area for us to focus on, and information management is an area we can improve on."
Mayor Al Foeckler said the city should look to improve even its highest-rated area.
"It's easy to kind of pat ourselves on the back when we saw our community higher than others," he said. "Certainly commendable as far as the rating goes, but always room for improvement."