Mayor Larry Grogan said the survey shows the city must maintain its basic services of fire, police, sewer and parks and recreation.
"We cannot allow those services to diminish," he said, adding that despite a decrease in funding from the Legislature, the city needs to build a third fire station and hire more police officers.
Grogan said he is pleased people find the city a friendly place.
Councilman Ray Castillo said he's pleased the survey was performed and that citizens are getting involved in making the city a better place to live despite the belief the city's appearances need improvement.
"We need to do some cleaning up," he said.
Councilwoman Cheryl Walker said she was pleased the city received such high marks on police, fire and library services because it shows residents' concerns are the same as the City Council's. She also said she agrees with the observation regarding the city's appearances, hence the council's strong support of the nuisance abatement program.
Residents were asked to what degree they would support an increase in the local sales tax for certain city services, including police and fire.
Of those who responded, 66.4 percent said they strongly supported or supported an increase in taxes for fire services, 65.4 percent for police services, 58.7 percent for library services, 61.9 percent for parks and recreation and 53.1 percent for city services in general.
Other items rated high included trash collection, parks, street cleaning, the library, ease of travel by car, ease of pedestrian travel and police traffic enforcement.
Those that rated somewhat lower were the taste of city water, street maintenance/repairs, street lighting, ease of travel by bicycle, cable television and city recreation centers.
Residents were asked which newspapers they had read in the seven days before responding to the survey. The Imperial Valley Press had 223 readers, the San Diego Union-Tribune, 141, Imperial Valley Weekly, 112, El Sol del Valle, 52, and Adelante Valle, 22.
Council members said they were disappointed that only 19.9 percent of those responding said they'd read the city's publication, El Centro Connection.
"That was very disappointing," Walker said, adding that the low number of visits to the city's Web site, www.cityofelcentro.org/ and the city's telephone information line, were also disappointing. "The big one was the El Centro Connection because it contains a lot of information about the city."
The survey was conducted by El Centro-based Reliance Communications. Bill Gay, Reliance owner, told the council some of the results need to be further refined.
>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.