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Posted on: May 26, 2020

City Moving in Right Direction According to Residents

The key findings of the 2020 Community Survey completed by the City of Washougal are that Washougal citizens give the City high marks for the overall quality of City services and that residents have a positive perception of the City. According to the results, the City is moving in the right direction with satisfaction ratings that have increased or stayed the same in 49 of 54 areas since 2018 and increased or stayed the same in 44 of 54 areas since 2014. Sixty-five percent (65%) of residents are satisfied with the overall quality of City services, which is a significant increase of five percent (5%) since the 2018 Community Survey. Only eight percent (8%) of residents were dissatisfied with the overall quality of City services.

“Most residents in Washougal think you’re doing a great job,” remarked Chris Tatham with ETC Institute, who presented the survey findings to the Council during the May 15, 2020 virtual City Council worksession. “Compared to other communities, you’re setting the standard particularly in customer service and the overall quality of city services. The improvements you’ve made just over the last couple of years are something you should be really proud of. It’s very unusual that I give a report like this and a community improves in 49 of 53 areas.”

The 2020 Community Survey is the fourth biennial survey conducted by the City and is used to objectively assess what residents think. With the results of this survey, the City is able to determine priorities for the community, guide budget and investment decisions, measure trends and compare performance with other communities nationwide. The City again contracted with ETC Institute to administer the six-page survey mailed to a random sample of Washougal residents. 517 surveys were returned, far exceeding target response goals. The results have a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/-4.3% overall.

“Long term trends show increases in almost all areas assessed, which proves we’ve made remarkable progress with many city services,” commented Mayor Molly Coston. “We’re being responsive to our community.”

Areas surveyed include Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, Communication, Streets, Code Enforcement and Customer Service. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of residents surveyed were satisfied with the quality of fire, emergency medical and ambulance services; seventy-eight percent (78%) were satisfied with the quality of police services, seventy percent (70%) were satisfied with the quality of customer service from City employees, and sixty-four percent (64%) were satisfied with the quality of City parks. Residents were least satisfied with maintenance of city streets at forty-one percent (41%).

Notable increases in satisfaction of major categories of service over the 2018 survey include effectiveness of communication with the public (+11%), enforcement of city codes and ordinances (+6%), effectiveness of economic development efforts (+11%) and maintenance of City streets (+8%). Additionally, nearly every category surveyed on items that influence the perception residents have of the city saw a significant increase, such as overall feeling of safety in the city (+10%) and overall quality of life in the city (+8%).

“Most of your residents have a great perception of the city,” said Chris Tatham with ETC Institute. “When it comes to overall quality of customer service, [Washougal] is really setting the standard there at 25% above the northwest regional average and 28% above the U.S. average.”

Areas of improvement for the City include the maintenance of City streets, effectiveness of economic development efforts and the quality of City parks. Among amenities that are most important to develop in Washougal, retail and restaurants top the list.

“Once again, the staff and the customer service that is provided and the quality of that service is outstanding,” said City Manager David Scott. “We try our best to treat residents politely, try to be responsive and do the best we can to serve the community.”

The 2020 Community Survey Final Report and related documents provide a wealth of information regarding citizens’ priorities for services across all city programs. Find the 2020 Community Survey Final Report and related documents at


Supporting Documents
2020 Community Survey Findings Final Report
2020 Community Survey Council Presentation from May 15, 2020
2020 Community Survey GIS Maps

About ETC Institute
ETC Institute was founded in 1982 by Dr. Elaine Tatham to help local governments gather data from residents to enhance community planning. The firm has grown from a small one-person company to a national corporation. Since its founding, ETC Institute has completed research projects for clients in 49 states. This includes thousands of surveys, focus groups, and stakeholder meetings.

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