Residents give Eagan high remarks

Survey: Most satisfied with city government, leery of taxes, want more retail

Money Magazine isn’t alone in believing Eagan is among the nation’s best places to live.

A recent survey shows Eagan residents believe it too, as its resident satisfaction rate places Eagan second among metro cities surveyed by Decision Resources.

A 2012 survey released on Dec. 18 shows that Eagan residents are highly satisfied with most aspects of the community including quality of life, local government and city services.

“We made sure to be in line with recent census data when representing the population,” said Bill Morris, president of Decision Resources, an independent marketing and research firm that conducts the biennial survey.

The results placed Eagan second in the metro in terms of satisfaction among residents. Edina ranks first in satisfaction.

City officials use the survey, which has a margin of plus or minus 5 percent, as a performance review for the City Council and a guide for the city’s annual budget, said Tom Hedges, Eagan city administrator.

Of the 400 households polled, 97 percent of Eagan residents said they believe the city has a high quality of life. Of those who gave a high rating, 54 percent described Eagan’s quality of life as excellent, which is a 7.4-point increase from 2008, Morris said.

Residents’ opinion on quality of life in Eagan has fluctuated over the past 10 years but has consistently remained high, he said.

Eagan’s elected officials and employees received high marks from residents.
High approval for council

Of those polled, 93 percent said they believe the city is headed in the right direction, while 5 percent said the city if off track.

Not only are Eagan residents highly satisfied with their local government, but they also are more informed than most in the metro, according to the survey. Of those polled, 57 percent of Eagan residents said they believe they are informed about city government, which is 29 points higher than the metro average of 28 percent.

Of those who say they are informed, 95 percent approve of the Eagan City Council.

The survey found even higher satisfaction with city employees. More than 80 percent of residents said they are satisfied with city services. Eagan’s police and fire departments received the highest grades of 96 and 97 percent satisfaction, respectively.

As a result, Eagan departments have among the highest rates of satisfaction in the metro, Morris said.

“What a positive affirmation of the professionalism that Tom (Hedges) and staff bring to the city and its citizens,” Mayor Mike Maguire said.

Eagan residents have expressed satisfaction with their community in each survey since it was first conducted in the 1990s, Morris said.

Taxes, development

Some Eagan residents (17 percent) said they believe the city doesn’t have any challenges to address. This is a 4 point increase from 2008.

Eagan’s percentage of optimists is higher than the Twin Cities’ average of 6 percent.

“These are people who will follow you through thick or thin,” Morris said.

Most residents noted a few challenges they believe the city needs to face.

Of the issues listed, traffic, growth and taxes were among residents’ highest concerns. Taxes has fallen down the list from 20 percent of residents raising the issue in 2008 to 10 percent in 2012.

Thirty-five percent of residents cited the city’s greatest challenges as keeping property taxes low but responsible. This has been a consistent view among residents since 2005, Morris said.

Although residents expressed concern about Eagan taxes, 49 percent said they would accept a property tax increase to maintain city services.

More than half of residents surveyed said they would be willing to pay more in property taxes if it would help support new development. A larger portion of residents (67 percent) said they support financial incentives to spur development in the city.

Commercial and residential development continues to be important to Eagan residents, most of whom (81 percent) said they believe the city should be involved in development efforts.

When asked what amenities are needed, 44 percent of residents said clothing stores, 28 percent said retail stores, 27 percent said entertainment venues, and 31 percent said restaurants.

Maguire noted that he expects residents’ concerns for a lack of clothing stores will largely be addressed by a planned outlet mall in the Cedar Grove Redevelopment District.

Most residents said they believe family sit-down restaurants, buffets and upscale dinning are missing in Eagan.

In 2008, residents saw a growing need for senior housing and care facilities, which is no longer a major concern among residents, according to the latest survey.

Unlike some other cities in the metro, crime has never been a large concern among residents, according to the survey.

A lack of affordable housing was a great concern among residents in previous surveys, but that concern has nearly dropped off in 2012.

Residents’ source of information has also changed considerably since 2008 with the city’s newsletter at the top of the list. Of those surveyed, 41 percent said they use Eagan’s newsletter as their primary source of city information. This is 10 points higher than in 2008.

The percentage of residents who turn to the local weekly newspaper dropped from 33 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2012.

Residents indicated they also use social media, particularly Facebook and YouTube, to obtain community news. Of those who were polled, 37 percent said they use Facebook for city news and 31 percent said they use YouTube. Data was higher among residents under age 45, Morris said.