Jefferson County Residents Satisfied With Life, But Not Governments
Jefferson County residents are, for the most part, happy with their quality of life, but not with government at any level.
Those are findings from Jefferson Community College's 14th annual community survey released Tuesday night.
The survey is a wide-ranging inventory of opinions from people who live in the county.
The survey found that most people say their satisfied with their quality of life, with 86 percent saying life is getting better or staying the same.
Residents reported most frequently that shopping opportunities, access to higher education, and availability of housing are getting better and the cost of energy, the availability of good jobs, the overall state of the local economy, and real estate taxes are getting worse.
A new question this year focused on sequestration. One of three people say their families have been negatively affected by federal budget cuts.
"The respondents from ages 18 through 49 were over twice as likely to say they were negatively affected than people 50 years or older," said Ray Peterson, the dirctor of JCC's Center for Community Studies.
"So that kind of stood out in terms of what part of the population is being more negatively impacted," he said.
Government at all levels received lower levels of satisfaction.
Local government received the most negative sentiment since the survey was begun in 2000, with residents giving local government the highest ever rate of "getting worse" in 2013, at 43 percent.
Residents made government/leadership the second largest issue facing the nation right now -- 12 percent in 2013, compared to 4 percent in 2012 -- after jobs and the economy.
Those who rated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job performance as "poor" increased from 10 percent in 2012 to 25 percent this year.
Here are more findings:
- The results on the economy and jobs are very similar to those from the 2012 survey, when there was a significant decrease in respondents rating the overall state of the local economy as "getting worse", down from 56 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2012 (now 46 percent), and still well below the peak year for this rating in 2009 (72 percent). Those responding with "getting better" increased from 15 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013.
- While over half of respondents in 2013 (53 percent) indicated that the availability of good jobs was getting worse, this was down from 65 percent in 2011.
- The percentage of Jefferson County residents perceiving the quality of K-12 education as "getting worse" was at the highest rate ever measured (21 percent), making this the second time in three years that dissatisfaction has been this high (20 percent in 2011).
- The survey shows solid support for school district sharing of services (89 percent), and for school districts to consider consolidation (63 percent).
- Two out of every five residents (41 percent) reported that availability of housing in the county was "getting better", a significant increase from the 29 percent rating in 2012.
- Nearly one-third of respondents (32 percent) report that the availability of care for the elderly was getting better, the highest rating since the question was first asked in 2004.
- In 2013, for the first time ever, respondents more frequently perceived policing and crime control to be getting worse rather than getting better, by 25 percent to 22 percent, respectively.
- The business sector that was rated "very important" to the Jefferson County economy by the most respondents was "maintaining farms and agriculture" (82 percent), while having wind farms in then region was rated "very important" by 37 percent.
- Nearly two out of three participants (63 percent) responded that their opinion or view of Jefferson Community College is very positive.
Thursday, April 17, 2014, Watertown, NY
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