It’s January and that means it is time for the annual Lakeland quality-of-life survey where the city government asks area residents to rate Lakeland across a series of metrics and to identify their top concerns for the coming year.

The city has conducted its annual community survey since 2013 and, according to Lakeland City Manager Shawn Sherrouse, city commissioners take results seriously.

“It is very important to get input from our citizens on a number of issues to help with the decision-making process,” he said in announcing the annual survey. “We will use the results of the survey in our strategic planning sessions and budget preparation for the upcoming year. We value citizen feedback and opinions shared by the community through the survey will help shape Lakeland’s future.”

Participate in the survey at

Stephanie Passey, a city management analyst, told the Historic Dixieland Neighborhood Association Tuesday that the city wants area residents to tell them “what we’re doing well and what we need to improve” in the annual survey, which will feature a new component in 2022.

“This year, we plan to have a focus group in early February that will delve deeper into the survey” during a “one-night” analysis that will precede the commission’s Feb. 23-24 annual strategic planning retreat, she said.

Passey said she and Lakeland librarian supervisor Angela Davis are making the rounds of community groups and neighborhood associations this month to encourage participation in the three-part survey and to solicit volunteers for the focus group.

“That is what commissioners want — some type of focus group feedback so we’re not just throwing darts at the wall,” Davis said.

The survey is not limited to people who live within city limits, Passey said, noting she lives outside the city but because she works and shops in Lakeland, the city wants to hear what she has to say.

The survey takes about five minutes to complete. The first part consists of 23 questions that ask respondents to rate aspects of city life. The first question, for instance, asks to rate “overall cleanliness of Lakeland” as either excellent, good, fair, poor, or don’t know.

The second part asks respondents to list their top five concerns in the city. “You can only have five,” Passey said.

When someone at the Dixieland meeting asked if “South Florida (Ave.) could constitute one of the five concerns,” she replied such specifics would fall under the broader traffic category.

The third part is demographic information broken down into zip codes. Other than that, Passey said, no personal information or names are required.

This is the 10th year for the annual survey. Last year’s survey drew the lowest number of respondents — 3,557, nearly 60% women — since 2015. The biggest response was in 2017 when 6,785 people offered their views. The 2020 survey drew 5,195 respondents.

According to the 2021 survey results, “traffic flow” was cited as a top five concern by 56% of respondents with infrastructure (42%), public safety (40%), planning and growth (35%), housing (26%), shopping, dining, entertainment (25.5%), energy (24.7%) and jobs (24.7%) the most frequently cited concerns.

More than 50% of 2021 respondents rated the city’s performance as “good” or “excellent” across 18 metrics with the lowest scores issued for ease of parking, availability of affordable housing, ease of bicycling, ease of driving, and planning for and managing growth.

In general, respondents in the 33801, 33805, 33809 and 33812 zip codes gave lower ratings to the city than those in the 33803, 33813 and 33815 zip codes.

While the survey is designed to be conducted online, hard copies can be requested at city libraries or by calling 863.834.SWAN for more information.

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