Good News in County Benchmarks
Responses to survey questions highlight Loudoun County’s outstanding quality of life.
One purpose of Loudoun County’s survey of residents is to get an accurate reading of how the public feels about county services and “quality of life” issues.
The 2012 survey provides a snapshot of public opinion last spring. It also serves as a benchmark when comparing this year’s results to those obtained in past surveys, which date back to 1995.
In general, the rankings in all these areas were very good news, especially for economic development and real estate interests.
An extremely high percentage of respondents – more than 98 percent – said they feel safe in their neighborhoods. Ratings were high in both rural and non-rural areas. Only one respondent – out of more than 1,000 – felt unsafe because of gangs.
This was the county’s highest safety rating over the past decade.
Ratings of Public Services
Ratings of public schools and other county services were also very high.
The public schools were viewed favorably by 91 percent of respondents with someone in the household who had used school services in the past two years. More than half – 54.8 percent – said they were very satisfied with the public schools.
The highest rated non-school services were fire and rescue (97.1 percent), library services (96.6 percent), parks and recreation (95.6 percent), health (95.2), animal services (91.8) and the sheriff’s office (91.4 percent).
Even those services with somewhat lower ratings – mental health, family services, building and development, and senior services – received strongly favorable ratings from those who used them.
For the most part, these ratings were consistent with ratings obtained in past surveys dating back to 1995.
Value for the Tax Dollar
Nearly 82 percent of respondents said that they strongly or somewhat agree that the county provides a good value for the tax dollar. Most of those – 58.3 percent of those surveyed – fell into the “somewhat agree” category.
This was always one of my favorite questions when I worked in the county’s Public Information Office. Even though it seems like a risky question to ask, I thought it was essential to find out whether citizens felt they were getting good services in return for their tax payments.
Ever since Loudoun County’s first survey in 1995, the county has received strongly favorable responses to this question.
Since county elected officials and staff members frequently hear from some citizens that their taxes are too high, it is always reassuring to learn that the majority of residents feel that they receive a good value from the county in return for those taxes. I suspect that most people would respond quite differently to the same question about the value they receive in return for their state or federal taxes.
Quality of Life
Quality of life ratings are extremely important because they encompass just about every aspect of life in Loudoun County – transportation, housing, safety, environmental quality, taxes, public services and leisure activities, such as recreation, dining and entertainment.
Loudoun County consistently scores well in this area, with excellent or good ratings between 91.5 percent (in 2005) and 94.6 percent (in 2002).
Again this year, Loudoun County received extremely high ratings from residents on the quality of life question. Almost 93 percent of respondents rated the quality of life in the county as excellent (48.4 percent) or good (44.5 percent). Only 6.3 percent said the quality of life is fair, and less than one percent said it is poor.
Moreover, there was a notable shift from “good” to “excellent” this year. In 2007, the last year the survey was conducted, 36.7 percent of respondents rated the quality of life as “excellent,” and 55.5 percent as “good.” There was essentially an 11-point shift from “good” to “excellent” this year.
The percentage of “excellent” quality of life ratings in 2012 was the highest in a decade.