City reviews results from online survey

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, April 21, 2016

Less than 1 percent of Selma residents took the city’s Performance Accountability Survey, but those who took the time didn’t shy away from pointing out areas where improvements could be made.

Only 364 respondents took the survey, which was made available online and in paper copies at Selma City Hall. In July 2014, the United States Census Bureau estimated Selma’s population at 19,814, meaning less than 1 percent of Selma residents took the city’s questionnaire.

“It is what it is. I just wish we’d had a higher amount of people to turn it back in,” said Selma Mayor George Evans. “Only 300, that’s not even a good sampling of your community. Those who did, that’s what they thought, so when you ask you get what you ask for so you use that as a model to make the improvements you need to make. That’s all you can do.”

Based on the survey, city departments were given passing or failing grades. Only the Selma Fire Department, which received a “C”, and the Selma Police Department, which got a “D”, received a passing grade. Among those that received “F” grades were the office of the mayor, cemetery, inert landfill, building inspector, property management, city attorney, tax and license department, personnel department, recreation department, 911 operators, youth and senior programs, public works, code enforcement, planning and development and garbage and recycling.

Mark Peterson’s Ceyero Consulting firm analyzed the data. Evans said he’d like to sit down with Peterson to better understand where some of the information came together.

“It could’ve been all As and all Bs and you’d still wonder if another group might have some ill wills about something,” Evans said, noting the low turnout for the survey. “My concern is to figure out how those assumptions are made when giving a passing grade to departments. I’ll be the first to say all departments, including my office, can always improve but whether that situation is to that extreme I just don’t see it. I really don’t see it.”

Crime was listed as the largest problem facing Selma, followed by lack of jobs and economic planning and development. More than half of respondents said they had been a victim of a crime in Selma, with burglary being the most common. Sixty-nine percent of those people said they would like to relocate due to the impact of the crime.

Evans spoke during his state of the city address Monday about Selma’s crime rate, which he said has decreased 23 percent overall when compared to the first quarter of 2015.

Although a lot of the survey left opportunities for growth, there were also several positives highlighted as well.

More than half of respondents (52.5 percent) said that doing business in Selma is easy or very easy. A majority of those surveyed rated youth and senior programs as excellent, fair or good. The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee was rated as Selma’s most popular event. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they have attended the bridge crossing event.