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Research firm explains survey results

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 31, 2018

Survey says: mostly positive things about Sterling Heights, according to a presentation made at a Jan. 23 Sterling Heights strategic planning session.

The city’s hired marketing research firm, the Kansas-based ETC Institute, sent out a residential survey in December to random homes to get a representative sample from residents about their opinions of city departments, services and more. Residents could complete the survey over the phone, by mail or online.

Jason Morado, ETC Institute senior project manager, was pleased with the level of response.

“Our goal was to get at least 500 completed surveys, and we had a really, really good response — we actually ended up with almost 700 completed surveys,” he said.

“And we had a really good representation here, especially for key demographic areas, such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, geographic location.”

Morado said the city’s scores were high overall and exceeded averages of other cities nationwide in 50 of 52 categories.

Of the residents who responded, 86 percent were satisfied with Sterling Heights as a place to live. On that question, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most satisfied, 37 percent of respondents ranked their satisfaction level at 5, 49 percent at 4, 10 percent at 3, and 4 percent at 1 or 2. 

According to Morado, respondents who were satisfied — giving a 4 or 5 rating — with living and raising kids in Sterling Heights exceeded 80 percent, and 78 percent of respondents were satisfied with city services overall. Ninety percent of respondents were satisfied with fire protection, 88 percent were satisfied with police protection, and about 79 percent were satisfied with snow removal, he added. And 71 percent believe that Sterling Heights is headed in the right direction. 

“So overall, you can see, by far, the positive outweighs the negative,” he said.

Some of the city departments and services covered in the survey included police, fire, parks and recreation, the library and code enforcement. Survey areas where residents’ satisfaction levels were slightly below the averages for the Great Lakes area or the U.S. included “visibility of police in retail areas” and “flow of traffic and congestion management.”

According to the researchers, the survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

When it came to what residents liked most about the city, Morado said three factors had more than 50 percent of respondents agreeing: an affordable cost of living, shopping and entertainment options, and living close to family and friends.

According to Morado, some of the suggested priorities for the city to pursue include increasing police visibility in neighborhoods, maintaining major city streets, supplying adequate street lighting, reducing litter on residential property, controlling weeds and grass on residential property, increasing police visibility in retail areas, and increasing crime prevention efforts. 

Survey respondents expressed disapproval over whether to let state-licensed medical marijuana businesses operate in the city. Among respondents, 45 percent strongly disagreed with allowing such facilities, 15 percent disagreed, 24 percent agreed and 15 percent strongly agreed.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool connected the desire to gauge public opinion with the Visioning 2030 goal-setting initiative that the city underwent in 2014.

“It has been a number of years now since 2014,” he said. “And periodically it’s good to take a step back and see how we’re doing with our progress.”

City officials said they plan to use the results to steer their goals and policies in the years ahead.

Community Relations Director Bridget Kozlowski said she was “very enthusiastic” about the results.

She said administrators will analyze the results and find room for improvement, and city officials will continue to use the survey in long-term visioning and planning efforts, particularly in how to allocate funds. She noted that the survey reveals a desire to focus on infrastructure.

“The city is always in the business of continuous improvement,” Kozlowski said. “While we scored extremely high and above average in most categories, it’s important to know there is always room for growth.” 

Find out more about Sterling Heights and its survey by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2489.