Survey: Residents are happy in Dakota CountyDakota County residents like living here and value the services provided by the county.
By: Jane Lightbourn, RiverTown Newspaper Group, The Farmington Independent
Dakota County residents like living here and value the services provided by the county.
The results of the 2008 residential survey were presented Tuesday to the Dakota County Board of Commissioners.
The county board has approved a biennial residential survey for almost 20 years. The surveys obtain information about residents’ perceptions of quality of life, quality of services provided and their satisfaction with county government. The survey also allows residents to share their priorities for community planning and their expectations for resource allocation.
The 22-minute survey was administered by telephone in Dakota County to a representative sample of 700 residents in March. A total of 100 surveys were completed in each commissioner district.
Findings are positive
According to Shannon Hayden, a senior analyst with NRC, the firm which handled the survey, the survey findings are quite positive. Some concerns were expressed — about community growth, taxes, public transportation, traffic congestion and the health of residents in the county.
Survey results indicated most residents value a wide variety of aspects of life in Dakota County and the services being provided to them. Ratings of services in Dakota County were mostly similar to or above ratings given by residents in other counties around the nation.
Many surveyed said they enjoyed the location, parks and lakes, rural quality and the schools in the county. The county characteristics the survey respondents rated highest were the availability of parks and the availability of trails. Public transit ratings were generally low in 2008 and were lower than in 2006.
Residents believe the the most serious issue facing Dakota County is growth and development and taxes. These have been the top two issues since 2001, through the proportions of people citing growth and development and schools as the most serious issue have declined.
When asked about the variety of potential problems in Dakota County, a majority of respondents cited taxes as the most severe problem. Traffic congestion was also considered a problem by more than half surveyed.
Drug use is concern
In the area of health concerns, underage alcohol use, drinking and driving, overweight adults and children and illegal drug use were of most concern in 2008 and in previous surveys. Less concern was expressed about secondhand smoke, the adequacy of care for young children, tobacco use and the health of the elderly and disabled compared to previous years.
Climate change was considered a “moderate” problem in general and and less of a problem for Dakota County residents specifically. A large majority of respondents believed it was important for Dakota County government to promote conservation, with more than one-third saying it is “essential.”
Government rates high
Generally, the ratings were positive about the quality of services that Dakota County government provides its residents, Most services were rated “good” or “better” than the national norm. However, there was one exception — public transit services was below the norm.
Libraries and parks are tops
Among all county services, libraries, parks and recreation, the trail and bikeway system, and snow removal were rated highest again in 2008. For the third survey in a row, the lowest rated service, was public transit. Most service ratings remained fairly consistent with other years, but the condition of county roads has has decreased each year since 2001.
When asked property tax increases to maintain county services at current levels, the responses were mixed. Two in five responses said they would support a tax increase, but three in 10 strongly opposed it.