That’s some of the findings of the transportation portion of the National Citizens Survey that was conducted last March.
“The survey records residents’ perception of the quality of life in Cartersville and their perception of city services,” said City Manager Sam Grove. “Transportation is only a small part of the survey. It covers every facet of life here — street lighting, roads, neighborhood safety, downtown safety, recreation, library, you name it.”
The survey was mailed to a representative sampling of 1,200 households and 322 surveys or 29 percent of the surveys were returned.
Most respondents, 81 percent, rated quality of life as “excellent” or “good” and most said they plan to remain in the city for the next five years. The characteristics receiving the most favorable ratings were opportunities to participate in religious or spiritual events and activities, opportunities to volunteer and the overall appearance of Cartersville. The characteristics receiving the least positive ratings were ease of bicycle travel, employment opportunities and ease of bus travel.
“The survey allows us to get feedback on policy questions and council can make decisions based on scientific data rather than the old ‘well, I got 10 phone calls about this,’” Grove said.
When compared to similar cities, Cartersville’s four community characteristics exceeded the national benchmark comparison, 22 were similar to the national benchmark comparison and five were below. The survey showed that city residents were somewhat civically involved. While only 20 percent said they had attended a meeting of local elected public officials in the last 12 months, 93 percent reported providing help to a friend or neighbor. About half said they had volunteered time to some group or activity in the city, which was similar to the benchmark.
In general, survey respondents demonstrated strong trust in local government. A majority rated the overall direction being taken by the city of Cartersville as “good” or “excellent.” This was higher than the benchmark. Those residents who had interacted with an employee of the city of Cartersville in the previous 12 months gave high marks to those employees. On average, residents gave favorable ratings to local government services.
Faced with declining revenues — $600,000 since June of last year — Grove offered a resolution to join with the state department of revenue to “share information with them about businesses in town, so they can make sure that they have these businesses in their files and are in fact collecting sales taxes from those businesses.”
“We know one reason is that Plant Bowen is burning less coal, so we are collecting less sales taxes,” he said. “But we want to make sure we have the exact amount of revenue coming in. This program allows the state to compare their files against local files and if they find a void, they can look into it and collect more revenue to support local government, city, county and schools.”
Finance Director Tom Rhinehart presented the June 2013 finance report compared to June 2012.
“General fund revenues decreased by $2,111,942 mainly due to a school bond that was paid off in FY 2012 and decreased funds from a local option sales tax,” he said.”Expenses increased by $1.4 million due to the decreased school bond expense.”
Rhinehart said water and sewer fund revenues decreased by $6,292,577 due to bond proceeds of $6.6 million in May 2012. Gas fund revenues increased by $1.5 million and the electric fund gained $28,171 in revenue. The stormwater and solid waste funds increased by $195,853 and $161,290 respectively. The fiber optic fund decreased by $13,436.
In other business, council:
• honored Cartersville Police officer Josh Downer for heroism for saving the life of an accident victim on Aug. 9. Downer was off duty when he encountered a serious auto accident. One of the victims was unconscious and not breathing. Downer performed CPR until emergency medical service personnel arrived. EMS responders said that if Downer had not administered CPR, the person most likely would not have survived. Downer has been with the Cartersville Police Department since November 2012 and graduated from the police academy in March.
• approved a special use application from Randy Wimpy for expansion of a used auto business at 416-420 N. Tennessee St.
• approved a grant application for a local maintenance improvement grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
• approved the purchase of roadway lighting materials for Highland 75 Industrial Park.
• approved the rebuild of a No. 1 screw lift pump at the water pollution control plant.
• approved the replacement of an air conditioner at the north electrical building at the water pollution control plant.
Cartersville City Council will meet next on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. at city hall.