In November 2016, 1,500 households in the Town of La Plata were randomly asked to again participate in The National Citizen Survey. The National Citizen Survey for La Plata contains a menu of questions about services and community issues as well including several policy questions. The survey and its administration are standardized to assure high-quality research methods and directly comparable results from jurisdictions across the United States.
Resident opinions offer elected officials an opportunity to identify challenges and to plan for and evaluate improvements and to sustain services and amenities for long-term success.
The survey results are used by the Town Council for community planning and resource allocation, program improvement, and policy making. This is the Town's seventh survey conducted over the past ten years and the elected body has used previous surveys in evaluating services, assisting in the development of Council priorities, and guiding them in making decisions regarding the budget.
La Plata continues to have strong ratings with 85% of residents rating the Town as an excellent or good place to live.
La Plata is also viewed as a very safe community with 92% of residents reporting they feel safe in their neighborhoods and 94% reporting they feel safe in downtown La Plata. The ratings for many of the basic services provided by the Town remain comparable to local governments across the United States. One area that the Town saw a reduction in score was with recycling services. The % of residents viewing recycling positively dropped from 85% in 2014 to 69% in 2016's survey. When the survey had gone out, the Town had already decided to change recycling contractors. With the new contractor beginning in November, after the survey was sent, hopefully residents have been noticing the improvement in service reliability, and this concern has been addressed.
In each survey, the Town asks policy-specific questions. In this survey, residents were asked about the effectiveness of the Town's Design Review Board in fostering high-quality development. The survey showed 70% of residents viewed the work of the board favorably.
An area that the Town exceeds national benchmarks in is code enforcement. 64% of residents reported not observing a code violation. A custom question was asked about which common code issues were problems for the community. These included; abandoned residential property, abandoned vehicles, commercial property maintenance, fence disrepair, graffiti, illegal signs, residential property maintenance, trash, and weeds. Based on the responses the areas that residents feel need greater attention are residential property maintenance, weeds, abandoned residential property, and trash.
With continued inadequate funding from the State Highway User Revenue for street repair, the survey showed a continued low score for street repair. 41% of residents reported the service as Excellent or Good in 2016 up just 1% from 2014. The Town again asked residents whether they would support increasing property taxes to replace lost Highway User Revenue for road maintenance. The response in 2010 and 2012 had 38% of respondents supporting the idea, which decreased to 35% in 2014. Residents in this survey reported a higher likelihood to support financing the maintenance. 48% of respondents supported the idea in the current survey, up 13% from two years ago.
This is just a sampling of results from the survey. The complete survey with all previous survey results can all be viewed through the documents on this page.