The Sarasota County Citizen Opinion Survey gives citizens a voice in the county policy choices that impact their lives. Providing 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 and acts as a satisfaction gauge for county services.
To field the citizen survey, Sarasota County and the Florida Institute of Government engaged HCP to help with data collection, analysis, and reporting of its 29th Annual Citizen Opinion Survey. In 2020, survey enhancements were introduced, which included minor edits to the questionnaire. These included featuring the most important questions every year and categorizing the rest into themes to rotate each year. With the rotating set of questions, new topics of COVID-19 and water quality were added.
The quality-of-life satisfaction remains at high levels (96%) within the county, despite a global pandemic. There is an increasing shared view that population growth and new development is a problem (+30% from 2019) in the county, and named household financial stressors are on the decline (-30% from 2019). Trust in government leaders—Federal, State, and County—have increased year-over-year. A top priority for the county lies in eco-tourism, as it was cited as being key to the county’s economic growth.
HCP presented the findings to the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners on November 18, 2020, alongside Dr. Joshua Scacco, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communications and University of South Florida students. HCP was honored to work alongside such bright students and the professor to continue the trending study. The county strives to maintain a pulse on its citizens’ sentiments, and the quantifiable public opinion data can be of great use to county leaders.