COMMUNITY satisfaction with Horsham Rural City Council remains below the state-wide average, a new survey has revealed.
Council's latest Community Satisfaction Survey showed the council's overall performance index score was 55 out of 100, which was an increase of one point from 2018.
This is lower than both the state-wide average of 60 and the regional centres average of 58.
Rural council residents rated the council's overall performance an average of 46, while city residents rated council's overall performance an average of 58.
Women rated the council's overall performance higher than men with an average of 60 compared to 49.
The most significant drop was customer service satisfaction which had an average of 61 in 2019 compared to 70 in 2018. Despite the drop, customer service was still the council's best performing area.
Residents identified local roads as the area they felt council performed the worst at.
Survey participants were asked to nominate which roads were of particular concern to them. A total of 227 roads were mentioned, with 95 belonging to the council and 105 belonging to VicRoads.
Blue Ribbon/Kalkee Road, Dimboola Road/Baillie Street and Dooen Road were all singled out.
The survey also asked participants which area council needed to improve the most in.
Community consultation had the highest response at 16 per cent, followed by sealed road maintenance at 15 per cent and rates at 10 per cent.
A total of 400 residents were randomly selected and surveyed between February 1 and March 30.
The survey was conducted during the same that the council's rating policy and strategy was out for community consultation.
Councillors discussed the survey results at the council's August meeting.
Cr Les Power said he wanted to look at the survey results from a positive perspective.
"There's always going to be people out there with opinions, whether they are positive or negative," he said.
"The survey prompts us to think about what we can do better or differently to achieve better results. There are things we need to take from it and build on the positives."
Cr John Robinson said he had a different view of the survey to Cr Power.
"The results have been somewhat consistent and the downward trend does seem to have levelled off. But our overall performance is rated significantly below the state-wide average," he said.
"The community has sent us a pretty strong message there. The rural rate issues and sealing of local roads would have definitely impacted the results."
Cr David Grimble addressed the discrepancy in scores provided by rural and city residents.
"The rural sector has let its point be known. The rate issue is part of that, but I also think the council is out of touch with a large sector of its community," he said.
"Over the last year there was a lot of spirited debate around the rates issue and I believe that from a political perspective we could have done that a lot better.
"The reason I joined council was to maintain that rural perspective on the council. So it disappoints me that we haven't shown that sector of community the level of respect they were looking for."
Mayor Mark Radford said the survey results could not be ignored.
"The numbers are what they are," he said.
"The rates discussion was a lengthy process with a lot of submissions. It was encouraging to see rural residents involved in the process and we have been able to achieve a fairer rates solution this financial year."
Cr Radford suggested that the council look into conducting two surveys each year.
Council's chief executive Sunil Bhalla said the results helped the council identify which areas it needed to improve on.
"The survey gives us a clear snapshot of our performance at a point in time. While we're achieving improved results in community engagement and advocacy, the community clearly wants us to do better in the area of customer service," he said.
He said the council had developed a list of key actions since the results were released.
"For example, our customer service team is revising its Customer Services Charter and Customer Service Standards. We are also undertaking a review of the after-hours phone service," he said.
He also said the council would soon begin engaging with the community on the Rural Roads Network Plan, which will form the basis of maintenance in the future.
See the full survey results below:
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