ST. CHARLES – Residents feel like St. Charles is moving in the right direction, but economic development is still too slow for them, according to results of the city’s latest survey.
City Administrator Mark Koenen shared the results of the 2013 Priorities Survey on Monday at the Government Services Committee’s regular meeting. The survey was distributed last fall to 1,200 randomly selected households throughout St. Charles. A total of 482 St. Charles residents completed the survey, and that 40 percent response rate represented families throughout the city, Koenen said.
Instead of using an in-house survey, the city used the National Citizen Survey, which has been used by more than 500 communities in 45 states. Using the national survey allowed the city to compare results from St. Charles to benchmarks created from the 2013 survey results of about 500 communities, Koenen said.
“We are much above average compared to our comparable groups across the nation,” he said.
St. Charles ranked much above or above average on areas of service such as police, fire and public works. While the electric utility ranked highly, the quality of drinking water received low ratings from residents.
“The comments we receive is that our water is hard,” Koenen said. “Hard water is not a health issue.”
The city made a decision long ago to maintain its current water, but criticism of this increased when Chicago and other suburbs transitioned to soft water, Koenen said.
On economic development, 66 percent of respondents say retail growth as too slow and 82 percent think job growth in St. Charles is too slow. Koenen said these results were likely not surprising to any of the city staff and the committee members at the meeting.
Koenen did not mention any of the current business redevelopment projects in progress in St. Charles, but he did reference an effort the city made to boost hiring. In 2013, the city entered into an agreement with Clarke, an environmental products and services company that offers mosquito control, he said.
As part of Clarke’s efforts to relocate to St. Charles from Roselle, there was an incentive clause wherein the city offered to offset Clarke’s hiring costs if they took on local workers.