Residents in New Independent Survey Endorse Montgomery County as Good Place to Live
First Residents’ Survey in 13 Years Also Points to Areas Needing Improvement (Results)
ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 11, 2007—Montgomery County residents feel strongly that the County is a good place to live, that the quality of most County services is “excellent” or “good” and that the County offers excellent educational, recreational and cultural opportunities. Respondents to the first broad-based survey of County residents since 1994 also indicated that the County should strive to improve in the areas of traffic flow, affordable housing and growth.
Releasing the results of the 34-question survey today, County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Council President Mike Knapp said that although residents think the County is doing well on many key issues, they also provided feedback on where to strengthen County services. (Click here for full results of survey).
“This County survey is another tool to increase the responsiveness and accountability of County government,” said County Executive Leggett. “I am delighted at the high marks the County gets as a good place to live, learn, work, and raise a family. Still, this survey shows we face challenges on issues such as affordable housing, traffic and public safety – areas my administration is working hard to address. I look at this survey as a means to help us improve in these areas and others.”
The survey was conducted in September by the independent, Boulder, Colo.-based National Research Center, which over the past five years has conducted more than 300 similar surveys for jurisdictions of all sizes around the nation. The survey was mailed to 3,000 randomly selected households across the County. The adjusted response rate of 32 percent was “higher than NRC often sees in larger jurisdictions,” said the report. Translation services in five languages (Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and French) were made available to the households receiving the surveys. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Montgomery County is an “excellent” or “good” place to live according to 86 percent of respondents. Also rating high marks from respondents were the overall image or reputation of the County (84 percent excellent or good); educational opportunities (81 percent); and the overall quality of life in the County (79 percent). Eighty-five percent said they are “likely” or “somewhat likely” to recommend the County as a place to live, but only 41 percent rated the County highly as a place to retire.
“Our government needs to be responsive, service-oriented and user-friendly,” said Council President Knapp. “This survey provides information that will help us focus on the basics.”
The survey asked for ratings on 35 services available to County residents, including some provided by entities other than the County. Many County services received high ratings, with the quality of fire services (95 percent excellent or good) and emergency medical services (90 percent) heading the list. Respondents also gave high marks to recycling, library services, Montgomery College and County parks (all at 85 percent), as well as police services (81 percent) and public schools (80 percent).
Of those who had contact with a County employee, three-fourths said the employee’s courteousness and knowledge were excellent or good.
The lowest-rated services were cable television providers (35 percent excellent or good), whose services are provided by private companies through franchises granted by the County. The lowest-rated services provided by the County were code enforcement (39 percent) and land use, planning and zoning (40 percent).
The survey also asked respondents to rate “characteristics as they relate to Montgomery County as a whole.” Respondents gave the highest ratings to recreational opportunities, educational opportunities and overall image or reputation of the County (each 84 percent excellent or good); volunteer opportunities (80 percent); and opportunities to attend cultural activities (73 percent). The characteristics rated the lowest include availability of affordable housing (14 percent excellent or good), availability of affordable child care (21 percent), ease of car travel (32 percent), availability of affordable health care (35 percent) and pedestrian safety (39 percent).
“Crime, traffic and public schools were viewed as the most important areas on which the County should focus,” said the report’s executive summary. “At the same time, survey respondents felt satisfied with services that were aimed at two of the most important issues—feelings of safety and schools and educational opportunities.”
Demographic information provided by respondents showed that 43 percent have lived in the County 20 years or more, 87 percent have access to the Internet at home, 67 percent own their own homes and 33 percent speak a language other than English at home. Of employees who commute, 22 percent have a daily one-way ride of 15 minutes or less. Other commutes for respondents are 16 to 30 minutes (29 percent), 31 to 45 minutes (26 percent) and 46 minutes or more (22 percent). Seven percent of respondents said that they telecommute at least one day a week.
All of the survey results, plus comments of individual respondents made in conjunction with their answers, are available on the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov