Study reflects country-style living and commercial dependency on other cities
Santaquin City officials got a glimpse into what their citizens want in the community thanks to a city-conducted survey taken in November and December of last year.
The results of the survey were presented to the city council last week in a council work session. The majority of the 392 surveys tabulated were completed on election night on Nov 8, although 33 were taken online on the Santaquin City website.
The lengthy survey featured 28 questions spanning a wide range of topics, including animal rights, aesthetics and image, and parks and recreation. Surveyed residents were asked to comment on various issues, with many opinions reflecting the public’s interest in the recently hot topic of the sewer treatment plant.
One question read: “As you know, Santaquin City government officials deal with a variety of pressing problems and issues? Which ONE do you feel deserves the GREATEST ATTENTION at the present time?”
Answers were across the board from commercial growth to improved sidewalks, but the most common responses had to do with the membrane bioreactor sewer plant and wastewater.
Of the 392 people surveyed, 50 percent of those were long-time residents of Santaquin who had lived in the town for 10 or more years. A portion of those (16 percent of the total) were lifetime residents of Santaquin.
When asked what makes Santaquin unique, an overwhelming 85 percent said it was the rural feeling of the town. Open space and low crime rates were also popular answers, evidence of the community’s affinity for small-town rural living. Despite that a subjective definition of ‘open space’ was applied to one set of questions, 73 percent agreed that ‘open space’ was a defining characteristic of Santaquin City.
Other categories reinforced the “rural” aspect of the city. When asked if the city needs more housing options, 81 percent responded ‘no’. When questions regarding large animal rights were asked, an 83 percent majority favored the allowance of large animals (horses, cattle, etc.) in residential areas despite the fact that 81 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t own large animals.
Many of the responses boded well for the City’s marketing strategies geared toward promoting a small-town image. Santaquin’s marketing slogan is “A Breath of Fresh Air”; the majority of Santaquin-ites agreed it was a fitting description of the city.
The city’s general plan slogan, “A Community Prospering in Country Living”, was also supported by most citizens. Sixty seven percent believed the city should pursue that goal. One resident commented, “Great slogan. Growth can and should come in a way that doesn’t jeopardize a community’s rural focus.”
Not all the comments were positive feedback, however. One commenter said, “We should not try to be something we aren’t. We should try to keep the small town feel.”
The survey was created by Santaquin’s community development department, and some of the questions put the city employees and officials under the microscope.
Those surveyed were asked to rate the quality of service and professionalism of Santaquin City employees. Although the question didn’t differentiate between individual departments, 78 percent answered that they were “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their dealings with city employees. Even with such a positive approval record, the city staff wasn’t without its criticism. A number of comments were directed at the front office staff, and some comments were pointed.
“Treat people with more respect. Don’t think that you’re “god” just because you work for the city,” said one citizen.
On the economic side of the survey, residents disclosed where they spend most of their hard-earned cash.
In a city with four gas stations and only one grocery store, it came as no surprise that most citizens admit they spend more money at the pit stops than anywhere else in town. In the small-town it’s not unusual for most of the residents to fill up their tanks and travel to neighboring cities for the majority of their purchases. At least 74 percent said they purchase fuel in town, but 71 percent bought their groceries in Payson.
Some other local businesses can find good news in the survey data, though. At least 54 percent of residents admitted they make hardware purchases in Santaquin, and dental purchases in town narrowly edged those made in Payson with 27 percent of those surveyed saying they got dental work done in Santaquin over 26 percent in Payson. Most residents bank locally, while dining out and clothing purchases were mostly done in Provo.
A handful of citizens expressed their desire for more commercial amenities in town despite the overwhelming support for rural living
Other questions asked for the public’s opinion of the city celebration and recreational services, with most expressing positive feedback in both areas. Even though the survey was conducted during the controversy surrounding the MBR, much of the survey data showed the town unified on their small-town goals.
View the complete survey results here -> Santaquin City General Plan Survey Results .pdf