City of LaGrange scores well in customer satisfaction

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, February 17, 2024

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It’s good news for LaGrange in terms of customer satisfaction.

Interim City Manager Patrick Bowie shared the results of their annual customer service survey during Tuesday’s city council meeting. Bowie said the annual survey has been asking the same questions for over 25 years and they have been tracking the results to see how they are doing from a utility customer perspective.

The first question asks, “Are we solving your problems?”

“Most people don’t call it a utility company until they have a problem. That’s the only time they really think about us when there’s a problem or when they get the bill,” Bowie said.

About 89% of utility customers either strongly agreed, agreed or had no opinion, leading Bowie to believe most had no unresolved problems.

Bowie said his favorite question asks if city employees are treating customers professionally.

“We may not solve your problem the way we want that you want us, to but are we professional in the way we’re approaching it? We scored 98% in strongly agree, agree or no opinion, which means you really didn’t have to interact with us. I think that really bodes well for us,” Bowie said.

Bowie said they also did well in overall satisfaction, with 95 percent saying they were satisfied or very satisfied, with no one saying they were very dissatisfied.

“I’m real proud of the guys. We preach customer service, and they really are taking on that mantle and running with it and doing a good job when they’re out there meeting citizens and customers on a day-to-day basis,” Bowie said.

Bowie also went over the monthly and fiscal year-to-date financials.

The interim city manager said the working funds for each department for January are in the green, meaning they are positive in funds. Only Sweetland Amphitheatre saw a small loss for January, he said, noting the city’s total working capital is about $70 million.

“Working capital is a good measure of your financial health. It shows your cash in the bank, your investments, your accounts receivable, less your liabilities like your deposits and your accounts payable It shows how ready you are to cover the costs that you have ongoing. So we’re in good shape financially,” Bowie said.

Working capital is up overall for the fiscal year through the end of January with the general fund up a couple million dollars and the water fund down about a million dollars, Bowie said.

Bowie explained that the general fund being up is due to an infusion of ARPA funds but the expenses associated with those funds have not been incurred yet. Similarly, there are timing issues with water and sewer where all of the debt service hits at one time in January and the revenues will catch up.

Bowie said Sweetland Amphitheatre is also down, but they are getting closer to breaking even and being self-sustaining.

“We’re really close to breaking even with Sweetland. That was the goal to get them to where they can be self-sustaining,” Bowie said.

“We just had a little loss. It was about $164,000 negative so far this fiscal year, but they’re really close. They had a great season and with the skating and made up a lot of ground.”