This year, the survey also included cell phone users to produce a more representative sample, particularly among younger residents. The results were presented to the Board of Supervisors at today’s meeting and are available on the County website at www.albemarle.org.
Citizens were asked to rate the quality of life in Albemarle County on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible place to live and 1 being the worst. The mean rating was 8.01, not a statistically significant difference from surveys in 1994, 2002, 2004 and 2006, showing that a high level of satisfaction has remained fairly constant over the past fourteen years. Seventy-three percent rated the County’s quality of life an “8” or better (compared to 74% in 2006) and 13.5% rated the County a “10” (compared to 19% in 2006).
On the whole, county citizens displayed a positive attitude towards local government, with 80% of citizens saying they were satisfied with the value they receive for their tax dollar and 73% reporting satisfaction with their experiences in contacting and dealing with the County.
To measure how important various services are to county residents, respondents were asked to rate the importance of devoting resources to 38 local government services on a scale of “very important”, “somewhat important”, or “not that important”. Of the listed service items, providing quality education for school children had the highest rating. Police protection, emergency rescue, fire protection, water resource protection, ensuring residential safety, providing public facilities, fair property tax assessment, and safety in business areas were in the top ten of services ranked.
Citizens reported 92.8% overall satisfaction with County programs and services, which is not significantly different from the 2004 or 2006 surveys and which continues to reflect major improvement from the 1994 results when only 84.3% were satisfied. Satisfaction was highest for fire protection, public facilities, business area safety, tourism services and library services. Residents were least satisfied with recycling services, providing affordable housing, managing growth, and efforts to make it easy to use public transportation. The satisfaction rating for the quality of education in the County schools was 85%, with a level of 92% for those with children in public schools.
The survey indicated continued support for the county’s major growth management policies, with approximately 75% of respondents favoring concentrating development in the urban areas to protect the rural areas. The survey also indicated support for spending more County tax money on roads, with approximately 70% of respondents in favor of more County spending. Those who favored increased spending on roads were asked a follow-up question: “Are you willing to pay an increase in taxes to fund transportation? Nearly sixty percent (58.2%) of these respondents were in favor of paying that increase.
“We appreciate the time and candid opinions of our citizens in responding to this survey,” said County Executive Bob Tucker in discussing the results. “We are very pleased with the overall ratings on quality of life and citizen satisfaction, and we also recognize that there are areas of concern indicated by the survey results that will need our focus and attention.”