Masterton District Council chief executive Kath Ross. PHOTO/FILE

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Masterton District Council has an “acceptable” reputation with residents, but is some way short of “excellent”, according to a survey it will use as a base to tell its story better.

The council received a reputational benchmark score of 68 in the survey of 250 residents carried out by Key Research – more than 80 is needed to reach the “excellent” level.

A report to the council’s meeting yesterday said the council scores higher in urban areas as residents living in rural areas are “more sceptical and less emotionally connected”.

Younger residents aged from 18 to 44 years like the council more than older residents but are also more likely to say they had little knowledge of it.

Overall, a third of residents reported having “little knowledge” about the council, and the figure was double this in Maori residents.

The report to council says the survey measures perception and that comes down to how well the council communicates.

Council chief executive Kath Ross said the survey will help the council to “tell our story well”.

The research will be used to develop an external communications strategy and one of the things likely to be communicated better is how the council makes financial decisions and is transparent.

Ross said the survey gave the council a strong position to start from.

“It’s great to have some affirmation in some of the areas we’re doing well in. Equally, it’s good to have some key pointers on areas we might wish to consider upping our game.”

The council wanted to engage with everyone and for them to know what was going on, she said.

If the perception was negative, but the council felt it was doing a good job in a particular area, “then we’re not telling our story well enough”.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson agreed the survey was a good starting point to understand how the council could communicate better.

“It was done really to see what our community’s perception is of the work that council does.

“To have a baseline and to get that feedback is hugely important.

“That will help us understand what we might need to be doing differently in the way that we communicate and let our residents and ratepayers better understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

In the survey, two in five residents are classified as “champions” – people who have a positive perception and view council as competent. In urban areas 42 per cent of people were champions, while in rural the figure was only 29 per cent.

Only 34 per cent of people aged over 65 years were champions but in the 18 to 44 age group, the figure was 46 per cent.

In terms of overall reputation, nearly half of residents [47 per cent] rate the quality of infrastructure, services and facilities of council as good to excellent.

An analysis of the drivers of leadership found more residents gave a high rating to council for being committed to creating a great district, than being in touch with the community and understanding their issues.