Skip to main content


Comprehensive Citizen Survey Results Are In

Every other year, the city conducts a survey to gauge how the city's services and government are performing, and find ways to improve.  Strong results from this year's citizen survey drove a rare 4.5-star rating for the City of Boise for its “quality of governance and vision.”

Walkway running along side a lake


Seattle-based Northwest Research Group conducted the survey of Boise residents between March 14 and April 8. In its report of survey results, Northwest said its 5-Star rating system for municipalities, which is used to rate more than 1,000 cities nationwide, is designed to make a perfect score very difficult to achieve and “very few have even achieved a 4.5-star rating.”

Respondents to the survey gave the city high marks in the “five powerful measures of performance” that make up NRG’s rating system (page 21 in the report). Here are those measures (in bold) and how Boise residents responded to related questions:

  • 92 percent agree that the overall quality of life in Boise exceeds or greatly exceeds their expectations
  • 85 percent agree that the overall quality of city services exceeds or greatly exceeds their expectations
  • 94 percent agree that Boise is better or significantly better than other cities to which they compare it
  • 67 percent somewhat agree or strongly agree that the city is heading in the right direction
  • 73 percent somewhat agree or strongly agree that they receive a good value in city services for what they pay in taxes

“These strong numbers show what we’ve always known -- that Boiseans love their city and are excited about its success and its future,” said Boise Mayor David Bieter. “Boise is changing. Understanding how all of our residents feel about that is essential so that we can continue to manage our growth in ways that protect those things that make our city so special.”

The survey was conducted using a mixed-mode address-based methodology. A scientifically-valid sample of 594 residents completed the survey -- 414 online, 51 by landline phone, and 129 by cell phone. Survey results were weighted so that respondent age, gender, length of residency and housing unit type (multifamily versus single-family) were represented in proportions reflective of the entire city. The phone interviews averaged 23 minutes. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

View of a city from on top of a hill


In addition to the city’s overall performance (5-Star questions), survey participants were also asked 35 questions around taxation, budget priorities, general livability, economic development, housing, environment, communication, public safety, transportation and demographics (page 48). Their responses show that, generally, residents give the city high marks for making the city safe and protecting the environment, but that creating affordable housing options, communication with residents and a need for more public transportation are areas that need improvement.

“One of the most valuable aspects of this survey is understanding where the City of Boise can improve,” said Mayor Bieter, who added that the improvement areas identified by residents are areas where the city is already working to make progress. In particular, he pointed to the city council’s ongoing strategic discussion around housing affordability options and the 2015 creation of the city’s Office of Community Engagement, a resident-focused team of communication professionals.

People sitting in a park


Survey respondents were also asked about city budget priorities (page 59). Out of nine key areas of government function, they identified these as their top priorities, in this order:

  1. Safe and Secure City
  2. Planning for Growth
  3. Environmental Sustainability

“Safety, growth and our environment have long been key priorities for our residents. And as we grow, these issues become even more important,” said Boise City Council President Lauren McLean, who noted that police and fire protection make up about 55 percent of the city’s general fund budget expenditures. She also noted both the Police Department and Planning and Development Services Department are slated to receive new employees in the draft budget being discussed in June, for the upcoming fiscal year.

Mayor Bieter also said that he hopes residents will participate in a series of facilitated resident workshops focused on managing growth that the city will host in late June. While details are still being worked out, those meetings will be a great opportunity for residents to participate in a productive dialogue around growth’s challenges and opportunities, and help impact the community’s path forward.

“We will continue to work with our residents and city council to ensure Boise remains the safe, vibrant and amazing city that we all love,” said Mayor Bieter.

Published: May 31, 2018