County reveals 2017 Citizen Survey results

Key findings show satisfaction with County remains strong; ‘spend more’ on Board core priorities increased since 2014 survey; concern for traffic congestion and growth intensifies.

Consistent with the Board of Douglas County Commissioners’ commitment to open, transparent and accountable government, for the seventh time since 2006 the Board retained Hill Research Consultants to conduct an independent survey of Douglas County voters. The survey assessed voter satisfaction with delivery of County services; requested input on the Board’s spending priorities and quality of life issues, as well as trust and familiarity with County Government.

“Our Board is united in our belief that a quantifiable, representative sample of public opinion from our communities helps inform the Board’s decision-making,” said Douglas County Commissioner and Board Chair Roger Partridge on behalf of the Board.

Regarding the Board’s investment of public money, when asked to consider spending levels among the Board’s core priorities – Economic Foundations, Health & Human Services, Historic and Natural Resources, Public Safety, and Transportation – 51% of respondents selected Historic and Natural Resources as their top choice to spend more. Tied for second as the choice for additional spending was Public Safety and Transportation, both questions tied at 46% of respondents selecting ‘spend more.’

Regarding growth and traffic congestion, Douglas County voters share common ground with citizens throughout the Denver Front Range.  The survey revealed that 81% agree with the statement: Douglas County is growing too fast.  Additionally, the percentage of County residents who agree with the statement traffic congestion across the county seems to be improving has fallen to 27%, the lowest level since the first survey in 2006 and 21 points below the recorded data in the 2014 citizen survey.

Bearing witness to citizen traffic concerns, when asked if they would prefer to receive property tax relief (like the 2016 tax credit of $16 per household) again in this year, a 59% majority said they are willing to give up the property tax credit and direct the total, combined revenue of more than $3 million to other county needs. The top cited spending priority for these dollars– in an unaided follow-up question – was transportation uses, including roads, bridges, and traffic congestion relief.

“The Board continues to be united in our commitment to invest a significant percentage of the County’s budget in creating capacity and mitigating congestion on county-owned roads as well as state highways through transportation funding partnerships with CDOT, contiguous Counties, our municipal governments, the federal government and the private sector,” continued Chairman Partridge.

“It seems clear from both the aided and the unaided questions regarding transportation spending, citizens from throughout Douglas County are united in their desire to see more investment of public money in roads,” added County Commissioner Lora Thomas.

Regarding voter opinion on public safety, 98% agree Douglas County is a safe place to live & work; 93% express satisfaction with law enforcement by the Sheriff’s Office, the highest recorded level of satisfaction since this baseline survey question was first asked in 2006; and 96% agree they generally feel safe & secure traveling around Douglas County today.

These consistently high results are encouraging,” said Commissioner Dave Weaver. “Given the Board’s public safety priority that specifically calls us to ‘provide a safe and secure community through resource allocation and collaborative partnerships that protect life and property,’ this is a gratifying outcome” Weaver said.

Among other key findings, 88% affirm the accuracy of the statement that Douglas County has good County government; 87% are satisfied with five or more of the seven basic services tested; 78% are satisfied with their interactions with County employees; and 72% believe that the County spends our tax dollars wisely, a significantly higher percentage than recorded in any of six prior County surveys since 2006.

“We are humbled by the nearly 70% of voters agreeing that ‘Douglas County Government listens to the people’s voice,’ and that ‘Douglas County is more open and transparent when it comes to the process and procedures whereby policies and budgets for the County are set.’ That is the public’s expectation we will honor when we examine the survey findings,” Partridge said.

Using the Douglas County voter registration as the survey baseline, 856 registered voters participated in the survey from May 30-June 9, 2017 by phone (landline and cell phone) and online (open-link and panel). This is the largest number of participants in any previous County survey. The findings have a margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

“Growing challenges with voter participation in telephone interviews, led to the decision to conduct 65 percent of the interviews online,” said Dr. David B. Hill, Director of Hill Research Consultants. “For phone interviews, we increased the percentage of cell phones to 50 percent of the total. The online and phone interviews were merged into a single data-set and weighted to match the known profile of registered voters by geography, gender, age and party registration. We know that, as a result, the survey findings reflect a representative sampling of voter opinion in the county, Hill said.”

Full disclosure of the 2017 Citizen Survey findings, paired with the 2006 – 2017 time-series of questions asked more than once over time, is on the Douglas County website

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