Consultant Richard Lewis, right, talks about citizen summit findings with Councilmembers Kim Porterfield, Fred Terry and John Thomaides (left to right). Photo by Christina Zambrano.
By ANDY SEVILLA
The preliminary results of the Citizens Summit meetings held throughout town this week illustrate that the San Marcos City Council’s performance on community issues as average, though leaning a little better.
Citizens rated the council in online surveys and 50 percent of the respondents decided the council performed average, while almost thirty percent said the elected officials were good, and nearly one percent identified them as outstanding. On the other hand, 20 percent of those surveyed said the council performs poorly, and about one-and-half percent thinks elected officials haven’t addressed anything at all.
Richard Lewis and Joanne Ford-Robertson, the consultants who ran the study, announced the results Thursday night at the City of San Marcos Conference Center.
“I think the council has done a good job, the city government has done a good job, but you can always do better,” Councilmember Kim Porterfield said. “When you’re trying to please so many different people, I’ll take a ‘C’ (which is the average grade the council received from the community on performance). The city is made up of such different people and you won’t be able to please everyone.”
San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said she is “pleased” with the results.
“Eighty percent of people think we’re doing good or better,” Narvaiz said. “I think that’s good.”
The study illustrates San Marcos residents as crediting the council average or above average in executing its tasks. Ford-Robertson said the council was “very rarely” graded below average.
“Citizens feel the council is working toward the goals and are trying,” Robertson said. “But there is a long time to go.”
Information for the study was compiled from approximately 150 completed online surveys and from 25 citizens who attended at least one out of five focus group meetings held on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The purpose is to facilitate a community summit and visioning process for the city of San Marcos, Texas that combines input from citizens and the city council regarding future planning efforts,” Lewis said.
The online surveys presented data identifying the provision of basic city services, supporting smart growth and enhancing economic development as the top three “very important” issues affecting San Marcos. When pressed to distinguish the most important issue for the city, online survey respondents spoke on enhancing environmental protection.
The focus groups identified supporting smart growth as the most important issue, followed by the provision of basic city needs. Ford-Robertson and Lewis found that during the next two years, some important issues affecting San Marcos include:
· Economic Development (living wage jobs)
· Infrastructure (bike lanes, walk paths, etc.)
· Housing (affordable, single-family homes, etc.)
· Traffic Coordination
· Code Compliance (graffiti, bulk waste, etc.)
· Human Capital of School District
· Regional Plan (sustainable development to protect the environment)
· Water Conservation
· University Congestion (buses, sidewalks, etc.)
· River Protection, and
· Improving the image to attract economic development (desired development with living wage jobs.)
“I think we have a really good grasp from citizens, city management, and elected officials on what they want for the community,” Lewis said.
Narvaiz said the council is arduously working towards meeting the demand of the citizens. She said the council takes to “heart” the work that it does.
“I don’t know if the people are aware that we are working hard on what they want,” Narvaiz said. “I want us to do outstanding in everything.”
But to reach “outstanding” results, Narvaiz urged residents to come forward with their suggestions, comments, and concerns.
“We’re trying to reach people, all of our residents, to hear from them and know what it is they want,” Narvaiz said.
Lewis said growth issues are not isolated to San Marcos. He said the state of Texas as a whole is experiencing rapid population growth, pointing out that the state’s present population of 24.5 million stands to grow to 38 million in 2042. Lewis said San Marcos has the opportunity to grow without losing is character.
“You, as citizens, are being heard as it relates to the (visioning) process,” Lewis said.
This is the fifth year the city has administered a citizen summit session. The surveys are used to enhance quantitative information. The “typical respondent” on the online survey was a white, professional female between the ages of 26 and 45 with a bachelor’s degree, who owns her home, has a household income of $75,000 or greater, and has lived in the city less than five years.
There were few racial minority participants and Texas State University students were represented in low numbers. The online survey will be conducted through Feb. 28 and can be found on the city’s website (ci.san-marcos.tx.us).Email | Print