Sarasota County

Sarasota County

Client: Sarasota County
Industry: Economic Development/Government


Sarasota County requires feedback from a representative sampling of its residents in order to get an annual “pulse” regarding how well the organization is fulfilling its mission—to provide and enhance quality programs, services, and facilities that reflect the goals of the community while always promoting health, safety, public welfare and quality of life for citizens.


Sarasota County has conducted a statistically valid survey of its residents annually for nearly three decades. Historically, Dr. MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, was the project lead. Dr. MacManus retired in Spring 2018 but worked on the survey for many years alongside Dr. Susan Schuler. Dr. Schuler has over 30 years of experience with market research and has been vital to this community survey since its initial launch. Dr. Schuler took over the project and partnered with HCP Associates to expand research capabilities.

To field the 2018 citizen survey, Sarasota County and the Florida Institute of Government engaged HCP to help with data collection, analysis, and reporting of their 27th annual citizen opinion survey.

The Sarasota County Citizen Opinion Survey gives citizens a voice in the county policy choices that impact their lives. Being able to provide quantifiable data for how specific topics affect citizen quality-of-life in Sarasota County is of great value to the elected, appointed and staff leaders of the county. The survey enables residents to provide their views on Sarasota County’s efficiency and effectiveness of a wide array of public services and policies, as well as acts as a satisfaction gauge for county services.

Minor edits were made to the trending questionnaire in 2018, but the integrity of the long-term trending questions remained intact. The methodology also remained consistent—a Random Digit Dial (RDD) telephonic survey, resulting in 800 completed calls to citizens 18 years and older living in Sarasota County.

The quality of life satisfaction remains at high levels within the county. There is an increasing shared view that there are no serious problems in the county, while named household financial stressors are on the decline. Additionally, trust in government leaders at the Federal, State, and County levels have decreased annually. A top priority for the county remains employment opportunity; job loss was indicated as the biggest threat to the County’s economy. Citizens associate proper job training and re-training as being key to the county’s economic growth.

HCP presented the findings to the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners on September 12, 2018. The full report can be accessed on the Sarasota County website. HCP was honored to work alongside Dr. Susan Schuler to continue the trending study.