Posted: Sep 13, 2012 8:24 AM by Victoria Fregoso - Q2 News
Updated: Sep 13, 2012 8:24 AM
BILLINGS - Street repairs, animal control, planning and zoning: These are just some of the things residents of Billings say have improved since 2009. Overall, residents are showing the most concern with public safety.
"Public safety is the number one concern," said Billings Mayor Tom Hanel. "Whether it be fire or police, public safety has always number one."
The fire department received positive feedback with 91% of residents saying they are satisfied with fire services. But a large number of people said they feel unsafe after dark in downtown Billings. Only 26% consider it safe.
"I really disagree with that rating," said Billings Police Chief Rich St. John. "I think downtown is beautiful, it's well kept, it's well attended."
Positive or negative, the results and feedback from this survey will be used for the city's strategic planning and it will reflect on their priority based budgeting system.
"Which is a very careful analysis of the budget in a detailed fashion, so we can place the money where it's needed in the most efficient manner," Mayor Hanel said.
Billings also expressed the desire for more economic development.
"Growth comes with pains but it is going to happen, Billings is going to grow. I'm very optimistic that in the next few years you'll get to see considerable growth," he said.
With economic development comes a bigger population and higher demand for fire and police.
Over the past six years, both departments have grown in personnel.
"We certainly can use a few more officers. We are looking at rearranging out beat alignment which just by default would increase our daily allotment by two. So you can see right there that we would probably need another 10 to 12 officers just to do that change," Chief St. John said.
But Mayor Hanel says the change in economic factors don't always mean a growth in these departments is guaranteed.
"Sometimes the pain comes with having to do with what you have and presently that's what we're doing."
Those survey results will eventually be available on line. But if you'd like to check out the results sooner than that or if you'd like to add your input to city officials, residents have one more opportunity to do that. The last of three community conversation meetings will take place tomorrow night from 7 to 8-30 at Oasis Water Park on Aronson Avenue.