To Our Residents, Especially
Co-written by Executive Director Sam Mamet and Municipal Research Analyst Melissa Mata
Last year, Colorado Mesa University (CMU) in Grand Junction released its “Centennial State Survey,” which tracked Coloradans’ perceptions on social, economic, and political issues.
We were very impressed with the results – and so eager to learn more – that we committed to partner with CMU on their next endeavor, the just released “2018 Colorado Community Report Card.”
Colorado Counties Inc., Colorado Association of School Boards, and Special Districts Association of Colorado also signed on to learn what Coloradans think, as did the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
We have been part of the team supporting the research, and we are proud of the results demonstrating what the League has said more than once: Coloradans love where they live, and they have a high trust in local elected officials.
Seventy percent of respondents reported being satisfied with their municipal government, as opposed to 62 percent who are satisfied with the state, and 39 percent with the federal government. Though municipal elected officials work closely with and rely on great relationships with our state and federal partners, we suspect the lack of partisanship at the local level is one thing that helps municipal officials stay focused on working hard for their constituents, and residents can see the successes stemming from that work.
In addition to letting municipal officials know their work is being seen and appreciated, this survey lets us know that there is still work to be done.
While access to recreation and open space are rated quite well by residents around the state (80 percent of respondents rated it an A or B), access to affordable housing was rated poorly, with just more than half of respondents giving it a grade of a D or an F. CML has also heard concerns about affordable housing around the state, and this month, we mailed out our own annual State of Our Cities & Towns Survey. In this year’s survey, we ask our members to look a little deeper at the affordable housing issue in their community. We will release our survey results in January 2019.
Access to decent-paying jobs received a mixed score, highlighting one way that Colorado municipalities are experiencing different post-recession years. Residents in Larimer/Boulder and the Denver area were both much more likely to grade job access with an A or B than residents in areas outside of the Front Range.
Transportation is also a mixed bag: Just 55 percent of respondents answered they have access to quality transportation options. We have certainly heard concerns around the state, which is why we have chosen to feature a discussion of attempts to address the issue at both the local and statewide levels in the next episode of our podcast, Making the Municipal Connection, to be released in a few weeks.
While not all topics covered in the survey are within the municipal realm, local leaders can better serve their constituents by understanding the nuances of a broad range of issues. This survey gives city councils and town boards reasons to be proud: for creating what most respondents see as safe places to live, a good place to raise kids, and a good place to start a business, as well as for providing a good value for their local tax dollars.
The results also give councils and boards direction for where to direct future energy: in addition to the concerns about affordable housing, transportation, and high-paying jobs, as well as 60 percent of respondents are concerned about future water shortages. CML recently released a Knowledge Now on the concerns about creating a resilient economy – whether the local economy is tourism-based or agricultural based – in the face of weather variability and corresponding water shortages.
CML, CMU, and our partners in this project hope to continue similar work in the future in order to better understand the issues facing the state’s residents and to inform policymakers at the state and local level.
We hope you look at the survey and share your thoughts with us. Our work with CMU is truly a partnership for which we are quite pleased, and we hope you are as well.