Pasco County received higher marks this year than it did last year in numerous categories in the annual National Community Survey.
Even so, substantial improvements are needed, if the county wants to achieve its stated goal of being a premier county.
An average of 350 communities participate annually in the National Community Survey, which is a collaborative effort between National Research Center Inc., and the International City/County Management Association.
Pasco participated in the survey in 2009 and then again from 2012 through 2020.
Last year, the county had an 18% response rate, for a total of 1,600 respondents.
The validated survey results show how the county compares to other survey participants, in numerous categories. The rankings can be lower, similar or higher.
The county also does a separate online community survey, using the same questions — with the goal of collecting additional data to help inform county decisions. That survey received 2,007 responses in 2020.
Marc Bellas, the county’s performance management director, presented the survey results at the Pasco County Commission’s meeting on Jan. 12.
The really good news is that “everything, almost across the board, is up from last year. Overall quality of life in Pasco County is up 12% from last year; that’s wonderful,” Bellas said.
He added: “If our vision was to be Florida’s good county, we could stop right now, because we’re really doing good work.”
But, the county isn’t satisfied with that designation, Bellas said.
“The county wants to take what it has now that is good and take it to the next level, which is great. We need to be better than the average,” he said.
This year’s results show substantial gains, in numerous categories, which demonstrates the county’s efforts are having an effect, he said.
“We have been at work for quite some time in order to create a better community, and it’s showing up and the citizens are seeing that,” Bellas said.
Bellas also reminded commissioners there often is lag time between improvements the county has made and improved survey results.
He stepped through results in numerous categories.
Overall confidence in Pasco County government has improved by 8%, Bellas said.
In the area of governance, which he described as the county’s board’s report card, survey respondents gave higher marks for value of services for taxes paid (up 8%), government working in the best interest of the community (up 8%) and honesty (up 13%).
“In this survey, double-digit movement is unheard of. That is huge. That is huge,” Bellas said.
The county also saw a significant improvement in the category relating to fair treatment of residents. That jumped up by 13%.
County Commissioner Mike Moore weighed in on that finding.
“People recognize that this county does care about the residents and we do treat everyone on
equal footing,” Moore said.
Commission Chairman Ron Oakley said that result also reflects well on Pasco residents.
“They’re some of the greatest citizens that you could have,” Oakley said.
Survey results also show improvement in the area of customer service.
Overall, the county’s customer service received a positive rating of 75%, up 6% from the previous year.
Bellas said that reflects the board’s emphasis on customer service.
“I remember just a couple of years ago, you as a board said, ‘You guys got to really get into this customer service thing.’ We heard you. It’s happening, and the citizens have seen the result of that,” Bellas said.
He also noted a big jump in the category of information services, which experienced a 12% gain.
“These are big, big moves forward. Feel good about that,” Bellas said.
Despite the progress, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey wants to seek out ways to perform better.
“I’m curious,” Starkey said. “Who has higher (results) and what are they doing?
“I’d love to learn what they’re doing that maybe we could copy, and do better. I’m not good with being similar. I want to be higher,” Starkey said.
Bellas said the county plans to address that: “In our strategic plan revision, that is part of our strategy — to benchmark against those higher-performing organizations, to really see what it’s going to take to go from that good to great.”
The survey did identify some areas of concern, Bellas said, including few affordable housing options, public safety issues in West Pasco and the growth of multifamily housing outpacing infrastructure.
Overall, Bellas said, “we’ve got some work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction and that’s the exciting part.
“We’re better this year than last year; next year, we’ll be better than this year.”
Summary of Pasco County survey results
Overall Quality of Life
(Overall 74% positive rating, up 12% from 2019)
Overall confidence in government
(Overall positive rating: 48%, up 8%)
(Overall positive rating: 55%, up 13% from 2019)
(Overall positive rating: 48%, down 5% from 2019)
Overall design of residential and commercial areas
(Overall positive rating: 52%, up 8% from 2019)
Overall feeling of safety in Pasco County
(Overall positive rating, 62%, up 1% over 2019)
Overall quality of natural environment
(Overall positive rating, 68%, up 1% from 2019)
Source: Pasco County results from the 2020 National Community Survey
Did you know?
The Pasco County government:
- Has 2,900 employees
- Manages 57 lines of business
- Serves 550,000 customers
- Covers 740 square miles
Source: Marc Bellas, Pasco County performance management director
Published February 10, 2021