A new survey has revealed a drop in locals' satisfaction with the Rotorua Lakes Council's decisions and performance - but the council's chief executive insists they are not poor results.
The results of the Community Satisfaction Survey, conducted by the National Research Bureau as part of the council's annual report for the year ending June 2016, were made publicly available yesterday.
The annual phone survey, which cost the council $31,000, asked 400 Rotorua residents about their satisfaction with the council and its services.
When asked about council decisions/actions in that year, 43 per cent either disapproved or strongly disapproved - up from 39 per cent in 2015.
In addition, 31 per cent were "not very satisfied" with how their rates were spent - up from 23 per cent the previous year.
When asked about the performance of the mayor and councillors, fewer people than in 2015 rated it as '"very good/fairly good" or "just acceptable" and more than one in five (21 per cent) said "not very good/poor".
In a written statement, mayor Steve Chadwick said the council would learn from the survey results.
"The issues that came up at the time the survey was taken were election issues and we will learn from those. The survey provides something for us as a council to reflect and build on."
Council chief executive Geoff Williams said the survey "provided a useful baseline and we will consider where and how we can improve".
But he said in his view they were not poor results.
"For example, overall 81 per cent of people rated the performance of council staff as acceptable or better and a further 10 per cent had no opinion while 8 per cent rated it not very good or poor.
"With regards to the performance of the mayor and councillors, 71 per cent rated it as acceptable or better, 8 per cent had no opinion and 21 per cent thought it was not very good or poor."
He said the majority of the 22 specified council services and facilities received a "very/fairly satisfied" rating from 70 per cent or more of the people surveyed.
He echoed comments made by chief financial officer Thomas Colle in yesterday's meeting, that the results may be skewed by the older age of the majority of survey respondents.
"By assessing individual responses [we] found that those who tended to be dissatisfied were generally in the 50+ and affluent bracket, and highlighted concerns or issues with the Green Corridor, City Focus refresh and/or Library and Child Health Hub projects. There were fewer dissatisfied people in the below 50 age bracket.
"The survey is a snapshot in time and this year coincided with the lead up to the local elections when projects people surveyed expressed dissatisfaction about were being debated."
He said the survey cost $31,000, including GST.
"While we didn't get the wider cross-section we would like, it still provides a good benchmark. We'll work with NRB to see how we can ensure we get a better cross-section of the community in future."
Ken Sutton from the National Research Bureau said of the 400 people surveyed 105 were aged 18 to 44, 154 were 45 to 64 and 141 were in the 65+ age group.
"It's a little hard to get young people in phone surveys. We have a minimum number we aim for. We targeted 120 and we didn't quite make it."
Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group chairwoman and retired district councillor Glenys Searancke said overall she wasn't surprised with the decrease in satisfaction.
"There's generally, in most categories, less satisfaction in all areas. People have clearly voiced their opinion but it's done and we just have to get on with it, there's nothing else we can do."
Mrs Searancke said she didn't think the ages of respondents would have made a huge difference.
"I speak with a lot of young people on the whole and a lot of them have similar attitudes to the over 45s."
The main areas of concern about services/facilities for respondents were public toilets (29 per cent not very satisfied), parking in Rotorua City (27 per cent not very satisfied) and recycling waste materials (26 per cent not very satisfied).
The areas that scored the highest were appearance and cleanliness of the city centre (94 per cent very/fairly satisfied), beautification and landscaping (92 per cent) and promotion of Rotorua as a destination to visit (91 per cent).