Douglas County is a Great Place To Be!!
By: Mike DiFerdinando
Residents continue to support Douglas County government, counter to trends seen elsewhere, said the head of a company that recently performed a survey paid for by the county.
The survey found many residents believe the county has a plan for the future, with a particular focus on the use and preservation of natural resources such as water.
Hill Research Consultants conducted the telephone survey of 600 registered voters in the county — 200 from each of the three commissioner districts — from April 3-7.
Of those surveyed, 67 percent said they feel things are moving in the right direction for the county, while 20 percent said they are moving in the wrong direction.
Twelve percent were not sure and 1 percent didn’t answer that question.
Fifty-one percent of those polled said economic conditions are staying the same and 40 percent said things are getting better.
Only 7 percent said things were getting worse economically.
“The general theme that I take away from the data is that there has been stability over time,” said David Hill of Hill Research Consultants.
Hill said that while he has generally seen dissatisfaction grow among the people he surveys nationally about their local governments since 2007, Douglas County has actually shown more support during that time.
When asked if Douglas County government listens to the people’s voice, 55 percent agreed and 11 percent strongly agreed, while 17 percent disagreed.
When asked if Douglas County leaders have an effective long-term, comprehensive plan for the county’s future, 52 percent agreed and 11 percent strongly agreed, while 16 percent disagreed and 6 percent strongly disagreed.
When asked if Douglas County spends tax dollars wisely, 54 percent agreed that they did and 10 percent strongly agreed, while 21 percent disagreed and 9 percent strongly disagreed.
“Douglas County has shown remarkable stability in the face of a lot of negative things that have happened,” Hill said.
District 3 Commissioner Jill Repella said she believes the community trusts the government’s plan for the future, because officials have set and met goals for improving the lives of their constituents consistently.
“That’s extremely important for building trust,” Hill said. “That doesn’t exist everywhere.” He said the rotating nature of elected officials will often lead to a lack of long-term thinking and consistency.
Repella pointed to “one question that we’re encouraged by in particular, and it’s Q41: Douglas county leaders have an effective long-term comprehensive plan for the county’s future.
“In February 2000 it was 48 percent strongly agree and we’re up to 63 percent this year. That’s a significant incline that we’re in the right direction.
“It seems as though the community trusts the direction that we’re going in,” she added, “and I truly believe that the significant jump that we’ve seen in the last four to six years is because we strategically have those goals in place and there’s some consistency in what we’ve been focusing on.”
This year’s survey cost $36,984. Hill said the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level for 50-50 splits.
That means the pollster is 95 percent certain that the results are accurate within 4 percentage points either way, for a relatively varied population.
Water ranks high
One area where Douglas County has made progress over the years is in its long-term approach to natural resources, specifically water.
Survey Respondents listed natural resources as their second highest priority for the county — after the economy — and 58 percent of people said water was the most important resource for the county.
Of people surveyed, 63 percent strongly agreed and 32 percent somewhat agreed that Douglas County should work in partnership with water districts to secure a long-term water supply and delivery system.
“Five years ago when we put our policy manual together and crafted those goals, those goals were very, very important and strategic,” Repella said. “Two of our highest goals were economic foundation and natural resources related to water. That was really a key area we were looking at in the survey to reconcile our citizens’ reaction to those efforts.
The results of the survey not only support our efforts in that area, but I was surprised by how much they were encouraging our efforts in those areas. It was very, very positive. We’re on the right track with that.”