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South Valley Journal

Results of citizen survey shed new light on city’s future

Feb 23, 2022 06:10PM ● By Michael J. Jewkes

By Michael J. Jewkes | [email protected]

“We had a phenomenal response rate…” Mayor Trent Staggs said in Riverton’s first city council meeting last month in response to the massive participation in the Riverton Citizen Survey that lasted only 10 days in mid-December.

With over 2,800 people, roughly 10% of the adult population of the city, answering the lengthy 31-question survey, the mayor along with the city council feel they will be more equipped to fulfill the project’s purpose to, “assist the city’s elected officials in strategic planning and budgeting efforts.” The mayor continued, saying, “The amount of participation in this survey is unprecedented…and absolutely shows that our community is becoming more informed and engaged.”

The press release and presentation of the survey results highlighted many positive responses to questions regarding the public opinion of government action in Riverton. According to survey results, “93.05% of residents report[ed] being somewhat or very satisfied with quality of life in Riverton.” Furthermore, “85.42% of residents report[ed] being somewhat or very satisfied with the services provided by the Riverton City Government.”

Other questions were more divided in their responses, however. For example, Question 21 inquired about funding a community recreation center in Riverton. Results showed 1,071 people answering, ‘yes’ to a rec center and 1,032 people answering ‘no’. Another example is a question regarding the revitalization of Riverton’s historic downtown. The most popular response to said question was to "look for additional dining options," which was selected by 28.49% of participants. The next most popular answer was in favor of providing additional city park amenities which received 21.15% of the votes. In addition, 21.15% of participants do not believe that revitalizing the historic downtown area should be a city priority.

Councilman Sheldon Stewart, who does believe in revitalizing Riverton’s historic downtown, responded to these numbers by saying, “If we can attract tax dollars to our community, it’s going to benefit our community.” This survey will give members of the council more direction on budgeting for future decisions involving the downtown area. The vision for councilmembers like Stewart is to bring in small businesses that can generate what he calls “reoccurring revenue.” Commercial revenue is more beneficial than property tax revenue because of this reoccurring aspect. This can leave more space in a city budget to cut taxes for residents and contribute to the quality of life in Riverton. Stewart continued, “Having business here means that I can live here, I can work here and I can play here.”

The survey, spearheaded by the city’s Director of Communications Casey Saxton, was designed to remove as much bias as possible for an online survey. This was done by remaining neutral in the wording of each question. Saxton was also careful to avoid online responses by non-residents of Riverton by sending a postcard to each Riverton household. According to the preface of the published results, “The survey is unweighted, meaning there have been no statistical or data adjustments to account for specific characteristics of the actual population (age, gender, location wit