A large metropolitan Local Government Area needed to review the mix of services it delivered as part of its strategic planning process. It sought the input of local residents in creating an optimised mix of services that aligned with community needs and aspirations.
The City needed a technique that would enhance its understanding of a series of key service areas affecting resident perceptions of the quality of life in the area. When traditional qualitative methods failed to deliver the level of detail required, the City contacted Research Solutions to discuss the suitability of using the modelfor their purposes.
The model is a flexible trade-off technique that would provide the City with the necessary detail. It would reveal the services residents valued most highly, the level at which they should be delivered and where residents were willing to compromise.
The study began with a suite of workshops with Council staff and the Senior Executive Team to identify the issues and develop the trade-off grids. The outcome of the workshops was a decision to undertake a two-grid process, one focused on capital expenditure and the other dealing with services, facilities and programs. Areas addressed included:
- road networks,
- public transport,
- sewage and storm water management,
- drinking water supply and the resuse of waste water,
- metropolitan greenways,
- festivals and events,
- heritage preservation and
- access to waterways.
This survey is usually delivered online however in this instance the grids were delivered through a face-to-face survey of 300 local residents.
The research presented a strong case for the City to consider increasing expenditure to improve services and facilities. Overall satisfaction levels increased dramatically at recommended levels of increased expenditure. The study also showed reasonably strong support for a rate increase to contribute to this expenditure.
A critical issue identified by the trade-off analysis was a focus on water. In this local government area, water conservation measures, the reuse of waste water and the health of the City’s waterways all emerged as higher priorities than “roads and rubbish”. The study clearly demonstrated that residents were prepared to “trade off” higher levels of service in some traditional service areas for improved water management.