It’s a tale of two surveys.
One of the surveys was mailed to a select number of residents.
The other was an online version, available to all Pasco County residents.
Some of the results were at odds.
The mailed survey showed a 4 percent increase in the number of people who like the overall quality of life in Pasco in 2016 as compared to 2015, and the same percentage of improvement relating to the quality of Pasco services.
“The economy has a lot to do with that,” said Mark Bellas, the county’s organizational performance management administrator.
Online survey results reveal a less rosy picture. That showed an 8 percent decline in approval of the overall quality of life between 2015 and 2016, and nearly a 7 percent decline in the quality of county services, during the same period.
Bellas presented the results of the two surveys to the Pasco County Commission at its July 12 meeting in Dade City. The survey is a guide for local governments in setting planning agendas and making budget decisions.
More than 300 communities across the country participated in the National Citizen Survey.
In Pasco County, the National Research Center Inc., mailed 1,500 copies of the survey to randomly selected addresses. Of those, 284 surveys were completed. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percent.
Online, more than 4,600 residents – 250 percent more than last year – completed a survey with the same questions posed in the national survey.
Though the surveys are linked, county officials noted only the results from the mailed surveys are scientifically valid. People online typically are focused on addressing specific areas of concern, they said.
Pasco has done the online survey every year since 2009. The first national survey also was done in 2009, and then each year from 2012 through 2016.
Safety is a top priority among survey respondents, along with mobility and the economy. But, people are feeling less safe than they did in 2015, the survey showed.
The survey found a slight increase in people who believe they get good return for their tax dollars. And in 2016, more people thought Pasco’s leaders were honest and treated residents fairly.
However, fewer people liked the overall direction of Pasco County and more people had less confidence in its government.
Road maintenance and code enforcement topped the list of “most important services” provided by government other than law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical services. But most survey responders, online and by mail, ranked the quality of those services last.
“We’ve got some work to do, and we know that,” said Bellas.
On the good side, ratings for overall economic health are trending up.
Some survey questions sought to define how Pasco can become a “premier” county.
Again, mailed surveys painted a better picture of Pasco’s qualities than the online survey.
For instance, nearly 80 percent from the national survey said Pasco has outstanding government services, compared to only 70 percent online. While 60 percent from the national survey said the county adequately maintains infrastructure, about 52 percent agreed with that online.
Overall, Bellas said the message from the survey results show residents want the county to focus on the “big picture” for Pasco.
Despite an economic recovery, Bellas said funding remains an issue for many of the problems Pasco faces.
But he said, “I think we could get to premier now if the funding was available.”
Published August 3, 2016