County services please residents, despite economy

The recession hasn’t dampened Mesa County residents’ satisfaction with their quality of life and the services provided by county government, according to a survey released Monday.

Despite double-digit unemployment rates, foreclosures hitting an all-time and continued cuts to the county’s budget, the 466 households that participated in a February telephone survey gave the county high rankings in most services and resources.

Residents, however, expressed significant concerns about job opportunities and economic development.

Overall, the county is performing well in the eyes of its citizens, a significant accomplishment in the face of the poor economy, said Chris Tatham, vice president of the ETC Institute, an Olathe, Kan.-based professional market research firm.

County Commissioner Janet Rowland said she was surprised but pleased to see positive feedback from residents, given the troubled economic conditions.

Maintenance of local parks and solid waste operations received the highest marks among county services, with more than 80 percent of respondents indicating satisfaction with those areas. The services that received the lowest marks were growth management and code enforcement, with 19 and 21 percent, respectively, indicating dissatisfaction.

More than two-thirds of the households surveyed expressed satisfaction with customer service provided by county employees.

In addition, the county appears to be holding its own against other local governments across the U.S. in terms of services provided. At a time when levels of satisfaction with services are dropping in other communities, the county outranked the national average in several areas, including solid waste operations, the number of walking and biking trails, public transportation and ease of travel on county roads.

But there is room for improvement.

Satisfaction with code enforcement and the quality of the county’s cable television channel ranked below the national average. And compared to the 2009 survey, respondents were less satisfied with the cable television channel and the county’s efforts to inform residents about local issues.

The economy also downgraded other perceptions.

The percentage of people who were satisfied with the county as a place to work dropped from 58 percent two years ago to 46 percent this year, while satisfaction with job opportunities plummeted from 36 percent to 13 percent. Fifty-nine percent were dissatisfied with job opportunities, and 25 percent said the county wasn’t a good place to work.

“Those are going to be things you want to address so people want to stay here,” Tatham said.

To see a full report of the results of the survey, which is conducted every two years, go to http://www.mesacounty.us.


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