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Residents rate Sarasota County

An increasing percentage of Sarasota County residents say the quality of life in the county and in their neighborhoods is excellent, according to results from the 2011 Sarasota County Citizen Survey. In a press release about the survey, a majority of residents believe that county spending priorities are appropriate, and citizens say they are less worried about property taxes.

Asked about their concerns, residents primarily cite the economy and jobs. They also see the loss of jobs as the biggest threat to Sarasota County’s economy. Residents strongly support county incentives for businesses to create jobs.

The annual survey of citizens was conducted by Dr. Susan MacManus of the University of South Florida in Tampa. This is the 20th year that Sarasota County has asked citizens to rate county programs and services, spending priorities and challenges facing the county.

Highlights from the survey include:

 

Quality of life in Sarasota County

• 91 percent rate it as excellent (52 percent) or good (39 percent)

 

Most important issue facing the county

• Economy/jobs, 39 percent

• Government and elected officials, 7 percent

• Taxes, 6 percent

• Public schools, 6 percent

• Traffic/transportation, 5 percent

• Population growth/new development, 3 percent

• Stormwater/drainage, 3 percent

• Crime, 4 percent

In the last four years, the proportion of people naming the “economy/jobs” as the top issue has jumped from 6 to 39 percent, up 23 percent.

The proportion naming “population growth/new development” dropped from 6 percent in 2010 to 3 percent in 2011.

 

Satisfaction with county services

87 percent are very (28 percent) or somewhat (57 percent) satisfied with county services.

 

Single biggest threat to Sarasota County’s economy

• Loss of jobs, 52 percent

• Government waste/inefficiency, 23 percent

• Property taxes, 6 percent

 

What kind of jobs are needed

• Manufacturing, 37 percent

• Construction, 26 percent

• Healthcare, 25 percent

• Information technology, 18 percent

• Education related, 12 percent

• Small business, 10 percent

• Biotechnology, 5 percent

• Research and development, 3 percent

 

Offering incentives for business to create jobs

75 percent want the county to continue offering incentives; 17 percent say incentives should be discontinued.

 

Offering lower tax rates plus economic incentives

73 percent favor additional incentives on top of lower taxes; 16 percent favor no incentives in addition to lower taxes.

 

County spending priorities

• 52 percent say spending priorities are “about right.”

• 63 percent put the highest priority on creating good-paying jobs.

 

County budget approaches

• Keep property taxes and services the same, 40 percent

• Create a new revenue source for specific service/project, 32 percent

• Cut property taxes and services, 14 percent

• Raise property taxes to cover services, 9 percent

 

Response to inquiries when citizens contacted county government

88 percent say they were “treated with respect”; 75 percent say they were “given correct information;” and 73 percent were “helped in a timely fashion.”

 

Neighborhood quality

91 percent rate the quality as excellent (55 percent) or good (36 percent). The excellent rating went from 47 percent last year to 55 percent this year.

 

The survey was conducted by phone with a random sample of 800 Sarasota County residents 18 years of age and older from Aug. 4-13, 2011. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida administers the survey project for the county.

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