Pinehurst residents’ satisfaction with the village and the services it provides continue to be among the highest in the nation, according to the results of its annual community survey.
The ratings in many categories far exceed regional and national averages, said Jason Morado with Kansas-based ETC Institute, who presented the results of the 2019 survey to the Village Council during its meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“These are some of the highest numbers in the country where we do these surveys,” said Morado, whose firm has performed more than 900 surveys in 49 states since 2009.
Overall, residents have “a very positive perception” of the village with 93 percent rating it as excellent or a good place to live and 94 percent who would recommend it to others as a place to live.
“There is no question everyone is happy to be here and that they are well-taken care of,” council member Judy Davis said.
Ratings increased or stayed the same in 44 of 85 areas since 2018 and increased or stayed the same in 68 of 80 areas since the inception of the survey in 2012.
Pinehurst rated above the U.S. average in 49 of 53 comparable categories and above the Atlantic regional average in 50 of 53 areas compared.
“You are significantly higher than other communities in the U.S.,” Morado said of the overall ratings.
Morado specifically noted that the 81 percent satisfaction rating for customer service provided by village employees was 39 percent higher than the regional average and 41 percent above the U.S. average.
“That is one of the highest numbers in the country,” Morado said.
He also pointed out that 96 percent of residents have a feeling of safety, compared with 67 percent in the Atlantic region and 68 percent nationally.
“The feeling of safety is much higher than other communities in the U.S.,” he said.
The survey found that 70 percent of residents are satisfied with the value they receive for the taxes they pay, down from 75 percent the year before. But Morado said that has remained “incredibly high” compared with the region and national averages since the village began the survey in 2012.
Morado said there were only five areas in which satisfaction decreased more than 5 percent from last year. The largest was in curbside recycling services, which dropped by 17 percent, followed by an 8 percent drop for solid waste services.
He told the council that based on the written comments received, the main reason had to do with the discontinuation of accepting glass.
Based on the results of the survey, the top four overall community priorities are:
* Efforts at maintaining the quality of neighborhoods
* Street and right of way maintenance
* Enforcement of village codes and ordinances
* Level of involvement in local decisions.
Those have consistently been the top priorities in past years as well.
ETC Institute mailed copies of the seven-page survey to a random sample of households intended to “accurately reflect” the demographic makeup of the village, with 716 residents completing it.
Morado said the goal was 700, which is “a really large sample” for a community the size of Pinehurst, with a population of nearly 17,000. He added that efforts were also made to ensure that each geographic area of the village was represented as well.
He said the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence — meaning if the survey was done 100 times, the results would be the same in 95 of them.
“The results aren’t perfect, but it is a small margin of error,” Morado said.
The results of the survey will help the council in setting budget priorities in its five-year strategic operating plan and also help identify areas or services that need improvement, as well as future needs.
“This is an important instrument in the governance of Pinehurst,” Mayor Pro Tem John Bouldry said. “The results are always quite interesting.”
Among the top rated village services:
* Fire services, 93 percent, compared with 84 percent for the region and 81 percent nationally, respectively.
* Police services, 90 percent, compared with 71 percent and 68 percent for the region and nationally, respectively
Solid waste, 82 percent, compared with 69 percent and 68 percent for the region and nationally, respectively.
While code enforcement consistently has been one of the lowest in terms of satisfaction — 58 percent in the latest survey — it is still above the region and U.S. averages of 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
While dissatisfaction with the level of public involvement in local decisions was 59 percent, it is also well above the region and U.S. averages of 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
Some of the other categories are even more striking in terms of high levels of satisfaction compared with the region and U.S averages, respectively:
* Overall image of village, 94 percent, compared with 66 percent and 61 percent.
* Overall quality of life, 93 percent, compared with 75 percent and 72 percent.
* Place to retire: 92 percent, compared with 59 percent and 56 percent
* Cleanliness of streets and public areas, 90 percent, compared with 60 percent and 59 percent.
* Landscaping in medians and public areas, 90 percent, compared with 55 percent and 50 percent.
* Maintenance of main village streets, 89 percent compared with 46 percent and 48 percent.
* Quality of village parks, 88 percent, compared with 74 percent and 70 percent
* Winter weather response on village streets, 73 percent, compared with 64 percent and 60 percent.
* Maintenance of neighborhood streets, 69 percent, compared with 48 percent and 45 percent.
* Effectiveness of village manager and staff, 66 percent compared with 37 percent and 36 percent.
* Leadership by elected officials, 60 percent compared with 32 percent and 38 percent.
In the area of police services, the village achieved an all-time high of 81 percent for efforts to prevent crimes, compared with the region and U.S. averages of 59 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
Among other public safety categories:
* Police response times, 88 percent, compared with 67 percent and 62 percent
* Fire response times, 87 percent, compared with 87 percent and 79 percent.
* Enforcement of traffic laws, 74 percent, compared with 59 percent and 65 percent.
* Frequency of police patrols in neighborhoods, 70 percent, compared with 62 parent and 56 percent.
Among the short-term improvements of least 5 percent since last year:
* Ease of travel through the large traffic circle, up 9 percent.
* Winter weather response on Village streets, 7 percent.
* Availability of recreation indoor facilities, 7 percent
* Range of amenities at parks and recreation facilities, 7 percent.
* Quality of recreation indoor facilities, 7 percent.
* Quality of adult recreation programs, 6 percent.
* Village website, 5 percent.
Among the biggest gains in satisfaction since the village began conducting the survey in 2012:
* Level of public involvement in local decisions, 19 percent.
* Availability of walkways, 17 percent.
* Given Memorial Library programs, 16 percent.
* Range of amenities at parks and recreation facilities, 14 percent.
* Adequacy of street lighting, 13 percent.
* Availability of information about recreation programs, 12 percent.
* Availability of recreation indoor facilities, 11 percent.
* Quality of adult recreation programs, 10 percent.
In addition to the top four overall community priorities, Morado said the survey identified several others, including dealing with congestion at the Traffic Circle. Others were:
* Adequacy of street lighting
* Availability of sidewalks
* Quality of stormwater management systems
Capital improvements residents feel is most important:
* Street lighting in neighborhoods, 42 percent
* Additional street resurfacing and walkways in neighborhoods, 40 percent
* Stormwater improvements, 35 percent
* Bike lanes and paths, 30 percent
Others receiving mentions: additional greenway trails, new library additional parks and open space, expand Village Center and redevelopment Village Place and additional athletic fields.
The council will review the results of the survey in greater detail as part of its strategic planning retreat in December.
Also during the meeting, Rodney Sutton received the 2019 Herman Drake Award as the solid waste employee of the year from the North Carolina chapter of the American Public Works Association-Solid Waste Division.
“Rodney has been a valued member of our Public Services Department for more than 12 years and we are proud that he is receiving this recognition of his outstanding service to our community,” said Mike Apke, village public services and engineering director Mike Apke said. “In my short time as the department director, I can’t tell you how many compliments I have received about the outstanding service the he provides to the community. So I think he is an excellent choice. I think he is well-deserving of this award.”
Chip Vanderzee, president of the North Carolina chapter of the American Public Works Association-Solid Waste Division. attended the meeting to present the award.
“It is a testament of what you are and what you have committed to the community,” Vanderzee said. “It is what every employee and employer should be. We’ve been giving this award for 40 years, so you are in rare company.”
Vanderzee said the award is named for the late Herman Drake, who s solid waste director in Rocky Mount for 40 years and served in an “exemplary fashion, and you too serve with exemplary fashion.”
Farrell noted that because of people like Sutton, solid waste is one of the top village services in terms of resident satisfaction, according to the recent annual community survey.
Sutton, who said he was not used to speaking in public and was nervous, become emotional in thanking everyone “for being there” for him after receiving the award.
“I can truly say I am proud,” Sutton said. “It is truly a blessing. I wish my mom was here. But thank each and everyone of you, especially my dad. He’s always told me, in life, as well as on your job, you’re going to have to do things that most people don’t want to do.
"My mom has always said keep your head up no matter what. My wife and son mean the world to me. To be able to stand here in front of everyone is priceless.”