PROVO, Utah (Nov. 1, 2012) – ‘Tis the season for campaign slogans and bold promises, but what do people really want? Caselle has released its list of the top five practical services and features that residents want from local governments. The results come from a survey of administrators, clerks and finance officers from cities and counties across the western United States.
1. Residents want prompt responses to service requests.
“Most residents don’t call unless it’s a big problem. When they finally call us, they’re in desperation to get something done,” Steve Elms, Riverton (Utah) city treasurer, said.
More than 83 percent of survey participants agreed that quick repairs are important to residents, and 55 percent indicated that service requests are a resident’s top priority. When residents find themselves without water, natural gas or garbage services, they want help, and they want it fast.
2. Residents want a city or county website that is easy to navigate.
“The website is important for the transparency of government in general,” Jefferson (Ore.) City Clerk Deanna Donato said. “Regardless of what we tell them, they can actually go online and see for themselves.”
A local government webpage should be a rallying point for the community, not just a warehouse of old meeting agendas. Residents expect the city or county website to keep them up-to-date on current issues, help them voice their concerns and connect them with facilities, schools and administrative departments. The ability to apply online for licenses and permits is another feature residents like.
3. Residents want online payments.
“Paying online is easy,” Andrea Iverson, Parker (Colo.) city auditor, said. “It’s convenient. It’s faster and cheaper than writing a check.”
Residents are eager to pay their utility bills, property taxes and court fees from their own homes, but many cities and counties are lagging behind. Online bill payment technology is a major expense, especially for small communities, but this feature is becoming increasingly affordable. Local governments should look to incorporate online payments in order to satisfy their constituents.
4. Residents want an online calendar of local events.
“With an events calendar, more people attend things that are happening locally and put more revenue back into the town,” said Kathy Lehmann, deputy treasurer for St. Anthony (Idaho). Residents want to know about everything from ribbon cuttings to rodeos. A good community calendar includes more than city council meetings. People want to be able to learn about holiday gatherings, reserve local facilities and sign up for sports leagues at the click of a mouse.
5. Residents want text alerts.
“Everybody just does everything via text now,” Tisha Green, manager of Hidalgo County (N.M.), said. “It’s fast, it’s convenient, and everybody has texting. It’s especially convenient for emergency response.”
Gone are the days of knocking doors or making automated phone calls to keep residents in the know. Text blasts are a fast, efficient way to keep on-the-go residents informed about local events or emergencies.