Independent survey: Nearly 70 percent approve of Cottage Grove City CouncilSixty-nine percent of respondents in a recent independent survey said they approve or strongly approve of the Cottage Grove City Council, up from a 55 percent approval rating from a 2008 community survey. Just 18 percent answered that they disapprove or strongly disapprove, down from 32 percent four years ago.
How do Cottage Grove residents feel about their city?
Pretty positively, according to a recent survey that showed a sample of the city’s nearly 35,000 citizens feel better about their hometown than four years ago.
The survey, conducted by independent polling firm Decision Resources in early July, questioned more than 350 residents on their feelings about Cottage Grove.
Among respondents, 69 percent said they approve or strongly approve of the Cottage Grove City Council, up from a 55 percent approval rating from a similar 2008 community survey. Just 18 percent answered that they disapprove or strongly disapprove, down from 32 percent four years ago. Thirteen percent had no opinion.
In categories ranging from police protection, to the quality of parks, to overall quality of life, approval ratings among Cottage Grove residents polled increased.
It’s a sign, Mayor Myron Bailey said, that efforts from city officials to communicate more openly with residents are working and that, despite vocal opposition last year to the construction of a new city hall and public safety facility, citizens generally agree with the city’s direction.
“My goal has been to make our government more approachable, more accountable,” Bailey said.
Respondents named taxes the most serious problem facing Cottage Grove. Sixteen percent of those asked responded with that answer, though 71 percent also said they get good value in city services for their property tax dollars.
The No. 2 response to the query about the most serious problem facing the city might be more surprising: nothing. Fifteen percent of respondents said there are no serious problems facing Cottage Grove. In 2008, the top concern among residents, according to the survey, was “too much growth.”
“They don't see any real, serious problems,” City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said of the survey results. “That's what that tells me."
Schroeder, too, cited more open communication with residents – something the city didn’t do as much of in the past, he said.
“Certainly, it has been a goal of ours to pay attention to how people feel about the community and the organization [and] to make sure we continue on whatever people see as the appropriate path,” Schroeder said.
Survey results could impact parks vote
Besides serving as positive reinforcement for the city, Cottage Grove officials will also use the recent community survey to help make a decision that could impact this November’s ballot.
The results will help decide whether or not to move forward with a possible parks and recreation referendum that could give the go-ahead to millions of dollars in Cottage Grove park and facility upgrades and a tax increase to pay for them.
Respondents to the independent Decision Resources survey expressed at least mild support for many of the proposed projects that could be included in a referendum, including adding additional ballfields to Hamlet Park, building an outdoor aquatic facility and renovating the empty building at the city’s now-closed municipal pool.
City officials said they’re waiting for more detailed analysis of the referendum survey questions that will pinpoint the answers of self-identified likely voters. The city must submit a referendum question to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office by Aug. 24 for inclusion on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“What I think the survey will help us do [is determine], ‘Is there is an overall feel of approval and do people want to move forward?’” Bailey said. After determining that, he continued, “the question is, ‘How much are they willing to spend?’”