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October 13, 2015

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Henderson residents give city high marks but worry about economy

Henderson is a pretty great place to live, residents reported in a community survey released Tuesday, but they share worries with most of the rest of the valley — namely, the economy.

Of the 1,028 residents surveyed in December, 96 percent said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the quality of life in Henderson. Mayor Andy Hafen touted that statistic in his State of the City address in February.

The ETC Institute, a Kansas City market research firm that conducted the survey, compared the city to 300 other municipalities of a similar size and found that Henderson exceeded most of its peers in areas such as public safety, street maintenance, water quality and parks and recreation programming.

Hafen could have also boasted that 92 percent of respondents considered Henderson a good place to raise a family, 92 percent felt safe living in the city and 87 percent were satisfied with the city’s responsiveness to their needs.

But on questions of the economy, residents were more reserved. For instance, 50 percent thought the city’s overall economic development was “too slow” or “much too slow.” More than 65 percent felt Henderson wasn’t doing enough to help local businesses grow.

Finally, 75 percent were disappointed with the city’s efforts to recruit new companies and jobs.

It comes as no surprise then that, when asked to list the top three areas Henderson should address first, 68 percent responded with “strengthen and diversify the economy of the city” as one of their three choices.

Another 60 percent said, “promote and incorporate practices, policies and procedures that support economic sustainability.”

In his State of the City address, Hafen cited Henderson’s Standard and Poors AA bond rating and the Henderson Space and Science Center as examples of the city’s potential while it attempts to recover from the recession.

The mayor was absent from Tuesday’s City Council meeting when the survey results were discussed.

Two other questions also produced interesting results.

One asked which city services should receive the most emphasis over the next two years. The respondents selected “management of city government finances” as their top priority, with 37 percent listing it in their top three.

Henderson must resolve a $19 million budget deficit in fiscal 2012 — $6 million more than the city had initially anticipated, City Manager Mark Calhoun told the council earlier this month.

Another question sought residents’ opinion on the possibility of consolidating Henderson with another local government. More than 80 percent of those surveyed said they would oppose any plans to merge the city with Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas or any other municipality.

The city’s parks and recreation department, which is accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, continued to earn especially high marks.

For example, 93 percent of residents were satisfied with the quality of parks and open spaces. About 94 percent were pleased with the programs and classes offered by the department.

And 88 percent had visited a city park in the last 12 months, making parks that most-used public service in the city.

In its final report, the ETC Institute gave a 95 percent level of confidence in the random sample’s results, reporting a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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