New survey results indicate most respondents are satisfied with Rio Rancho and available services, although there are a few low points.
In the survey, 89 percent of respondents rated Rio Rancho as an excellent or good place to live, up from 83 percent in 2019.
In the survey, 69 percent of respondents said the city’s services were good or excellent, far better than that the 39 percent who said federal government services are good or excellent.
“While we will continue to work on areas of improvement, these results clearly show why Rio Rancho is recognized nationally as a best place to live and that we continue to head in the right direction,” said Mayor Gregg Hull in a city news release.
For the citizen survey, said Jade Arocha, senior program analyst from online survey company Polco, 2,700 randomly chosen Rio Rancho households were invited by mail to participate. Of those, 2,633 invitations were able to be delivered and 399 people responded.
Arocha said that 15 percent response rate provided a 5 percent margin of error and was statistically representative of the community. Survey compilers weighted responses to try to correct for not hearing from each demographic group equally.
“This is a gold-standard practice in statistically valid survey results,” Arocha said.
Sending survey invitations to more households would cost a lot more for small decreases in margin of error, she continued.
All Rio Rancho residents were invited to take the survey online, outside the mailed invitations. Ninety-six did so.
Because their participation wasn’t randomly selected and there’s no way to estimate how representative the responses are, Arocha said, those results were presented separately from the results considered statistically valid.
City of Rio Rancho spokeswoman Annemarie Garcia said at the Aug. 12 Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting that the city has been commissioning the survey every other year since 2015.
“We want to hear from our community, and we want to do so in a way we’re not influencing results,” she said.
According to the statistically valid section of the survey, 58 percent of respondents believe the city does an excellent or good job of “generally acting in the best interest of the community.” That number is up from 54 percent in 2019 and 44 percent in 2015.
Also, 52 percent believe the city is good or excellent at being open and transparent, according to the survey. There are no prior years’ results for that question, but the results were similar to the benchmark derived from survey responses for more than 600 other cities around the nation.
On openness and acceptance toward people of diverse backgrounds, 57 percent of respondents said the community does an excellent or good job, down from 67 percent in 2019 and 59 percent in 2015. According to the survey, 57 percent is similar to results in other cities.
Garcia said Deputy City Manager Steve Ruger started a diversity, equity and inclusion program this year. City staff members are discussing how to make services more equitable for residents and city employees.
In the area of safety, 82 percent of respondents said Rio Rancho had an excellent or good overall feeling of safety this year, the same as in 2019. Also, 84 percent said law enforcement services were good or excellent, down slightly from 86 percent in 2019.
Eighty-eight percent of respondents rated emergency medical services as good or excellent, down from 90 percent in 2019.
For fire services, 94 percent of survey participants said they were good or excellent, up 1 percent from 2019.
Ratings for animal control services went up from 60 percent excellent or good in 2019 to 74 percent this year.
All of Rio Rancho’s safety ratings were similar to the benchmark, according to the survey.
For utilities, 58 percent of respondents said the overall quality of utility infrastructure was good or excellent. There were no such ratings from prior years, but the survey indicated Rio Rancho scored similarly to other cities.
Sixty-four percent of survey participants said Rio Rancho’s drinking water quality was good or excellent, up from 51 percent in 2019. That number is similar to the benchmark.
The rating for utility billing went up to 64 percent good or excellent opinions from 43 percent two years ago. Garcia said the city had instituted several electronic methods of paying water and wastewater bills.
“In these results, we see the fruits of our labor,” she said.
For overall economic health, 63 percent of respondents rated it as excellent or good, similar to the benchmark and up from 49 percent two years ago. Sixty-two percent of respondents said the cost of living here is good or excellent, a rating higher than the benchmark and up 1 percent from 2019.
Asked about the availability of quality affordable housing, 49 percent of respondents said it was excellent or good. That’s higher than the benchmark but lower than Rio Rancho’s 2019 rating of 56 percent.
“As we have seen with the housing market, housing costs have sky-rocketed, which leaves limited opportunities for citizens to have access to affordable housing,” Garcia said.
This year’s city budget contains money for an affordable housing study to help plan in that area.
Forty-five percent of respondents rated Rio Rancho’s recreational opportunities as good or excellent, lower than the benchmark and down by 10 percent from the prior survey.
Asked about health and wellness, 69 percent of respondents rated the availability of affordable quality health care as good or excellent, and 40 percent said the availability of affordable quality mental health care was good or excellent. Both numbers are similar to the benchmark from other cities.
The health care rating is up 2 percent from 2019, while the mental health care rating is down 7 percent.
“It’s clear the people are pleased with the direction we’re headed. We couldn’t have done it without our dedicated city employees, incredible Rio Rancho city staff and our hard-working city council,” Hull said in a news release sent by a private company.
For more survey results or other information, visit rrnm.gov/4666/2021-Citizen-Survey.