By Ken Sain
The City of Chandler is launching a web portal designed to improve transparency and make the city more accountable to its residents.
People with questions about the city may find it a good place to look for answers to questions such as:
• What is the median household income? $97,000.
• How many planes land and depart from the airport each year? 57,000.
• What is the average police response time to a priority call? 4:13.
• How many kilometers of cycle paths are there in the city? 354.
These are just a few of the nuggets of information the dashboards have, which can be found at chandleraz.gov/performance. It was launched on November 7, and city officials showed the mayor and council members around during a working session.
“We want to show our movement in this direction today to show how we can back all of our actions with numbers and be accountable and transparent to our residents through this portal,” said Steven Turner, the city manager’s assistant.
The information is broken down according to the areas of intervention of the Council’s strategic framework: economic vitality, innovation and technology, mobility, neighborhoods, quality of life and good governance.
The quality of life category is further subdivided into three subsets: public safety, cultural development and recreation.
One of the goals of the dashboard is to show the city’s progress in achieving its goals. For example, if the goal is for the average police response time to a priority one call to be less than 5 minutes, this would be appropriate. It would also show when the city is not meeting its targets.
These lenses are usually highlighted in a different color to make them stand out. For example, the city’s goal is for customers to give the Tumbleweed Recreation Center an average rating of at least 4.5 out of five. It is currently at 4.3.
Another goal is for the average pavement quality index to be 70 or higher. The city is currently at 68.5. The only other metric falling short of the city’s goals is the average customer wait time when calling City Hall. The goal is one minute or less. The current waiting time is 1:53.
The scorecard “keeps city council staff accountable and transparent to our constituents, and ultimately provides a culture of excellence,” Turner said. “Everyone kind of works together on a common theme and a common goal.”
Turner and City Manager Joshua Wright asked council members to consider changing their focus areas to make it easier for them to measure progress.
“The current policy framework, as currently written, is difficult to measure quantitatively,” Turner said. “There are a lot of big goals and big areas of focus in there, however, it’s hard to track quantitatively.”
Turner gave an example.
He said Council could agree to spend an extra $1 million on parks. It would be difficult to hold people accountable because there is no guidance on how to spend the money or what the priorities are. However, if Council has stated that the goal is for there to be a park within a five-minute walk of every Chandler resident, that is something they could work on.
The mayor and council plan to meet in February to review their policy framework and make any adjustments they deem necessary. The two new council members, Angel Encinas and Jane Poston, will be sworn in on January 12.
Most dashboard items can be clicked to provide more information. This may include a graph showing the trend for that category.
Some items will be updated monthly, but others less frequently. Many economic data statistics are updated quarterly. Some, like the number of airport flights, are updated annually.
Some figures may require additional context.
For example, one of the dashboards shows that there are 345 sworn police officers in Chandler. Police Chief Sean Duggan said in a presentation to Council that there aren’t many officers at the moment because the department has been unable to fill 31 positions.
“The reality we’re facing right now is that the number of people wanting to become police officers has dropped dramatically,” Duggan said. “And of that pool of people, the number of people qualified to be police officers, let alone Chandler police officers, is even smaller.
“So we’re in a constant struggle at the local level, in a very saturated market, a market where every city, every police department is fighting for quality people to join the ranks, and the pool is very small.”