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Date ArticleType
11/7/2019 General
Marion's Quality of Life Receives High Marks

This summer, the City of Marion contracted with National Research Center, Inc. to conduct The National Community Survey™ (The NCS™). The survey was mailed to a representative sample of 1,700 Marion residents.

The survey measures the overall livability of communities, taking into consideration the relationship between government entities, the private sector, community-based organizations, and the residents of a geographic area.

For Marion, 93 percent of residents rated the community as an excellent or good place to live and 88 percent rated the overall quality of life positively. According to the NCS Community Livability Report, how residents rate their overall quality of life is an indicator of the community’s overall health.

Marion’s ratings were compared to national benchmarks included from over 600 communities representing a wide geographic and population range. The results were also compared to a select subset of the database with similar characteristics to Marion; secondary cities (in a metro but not the primary city), similar in both population and annual household income.

Marion ranked well above the national and peer benchmarks with 94 percent of respondents indicating that Marion is an excellent or good place to raise children. K-12 education also ranked higher than both benchmarks, and 9 in 10 residents positively rated the overall feeling of safety in Marion. Nine in 10 respondents would also recommend living in Marion to someone who asked.

The holistic look at the community also identified some areas for improvement, particularly related to streets/infrastructure and code enforcement.

“These survey results reaffirm our status as the best place to raise a family and much of that has to do with the quality of life that we enjoy,” noted Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. “There’s still work to be done, but with a dedicated staff and Marion’s collaborative nature we will continue on in a positive direction.”

Overall, ratings in Marion remained stable. With this being the second time the NCS was administered in Marion, meaningful differences of more than 6 percentage points were noted from 2017 to 2019.

Evaluations of ease of travel by bicycle and by public transportation, opportunities to attend cultural/arts/music activities, and opportunities to participate in social events and activities increased from 2017 to 2019. Ratings for the overall quality of businesses and services in Marion and the availability of affordable quality food decreased during that time.

Assessments of recreation centers or facilities improved from 2017 to 2019. Additionally, more residents gave positive reviews to government performance for the overall direction the City is taking, the government welcoming resident involvement, and treating all residents fairly. Respondents assigned less positive reviews to street cleaning, snow removal, storm drainage, power utility, code enforcement, and public libraries in 2019.

From 2017 to 2019, levels of participation for most items remained stable in Marion. In 2019, fewer residents reported they had carpooled instead of driving alone; conserved water; voted in local elections; campaigned for an issue, cause or candidate; or read or watched the local news. Additionally, more respondents observed a code violation in 2019 compared to 2017.

“Within a two year period, it can be challenging for a government entity to move the needle,” said City Manager Lon Pluckhahn. “We’ve made positive strides in a number of areas and recognize where there are opportunities for improvement. The City will use this data to inform our strategic plan, the budget process, and department work plans.”

The five-page survey was administered during July/August 2019 to a random sampling of 1,700 households. Five hundred nine responses were received, achieving a +/- 4 percent margin of error. The data was then weighted to reflect the demographic characteristics of the community. Toward the end of data collection, a web-based survey was available to all residents and 526 residents opted to complete the survey online.

To view the full report of the 2019 National Community Survey results, visit www.cityofmarion.org.