Citizens for Balanced Growth

Tag: Citizen Surveys

Summary of County’s 2014 Citizen Satisfaction Survey: “Prince William residents generally satisfied with county, but transportation scores drop

By Keith Walker, Bull Run Now.Com 16 Sep 2014

“The results of the 2014 Community Survey are in, and overall, the citizens of Prince William County are very satisfied with the performance of their County government.

“The survey showed that county residents enjoy a high quality of life, receive effective and efficient services from their government, feel safe in their communities, and report they receive high value for their tax dollars. Survey results remained on par with the last survey conducted in 2012.

“The survey was administered by an independent party, ORC International, a demographic, health and market research group based in Princeton, N.J. A total of 1,831 people completed the survey, which has a plus or minus 2.3-percent margin of error.

“In the 2014 survey, 91 percent of respondents indicated that they were happy with the quality of life in Prince William County. People who agreed that the county’s overall quality of services met or exceeded their expectations rose from 90 percent to 91 percent in 2014; and eight out of 10 respondents agreed or strongly agreed that county employees were courteous and helpful.

“The survey also showed that 86 percent of residents believe that the county provides services and facilities that are a good value for their tax dollar. This is the highest score ever for this question since the county began surveying in 1993. The majority of residents (84 percent) trust the County to do the right thing; and 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the county provides efficient and effective services.

“People continue to feel safe in their community, with 93 percent agreeing that they feel safe in their neighborhoods and when they visit commercial areas.

“They rated the overall performance of the county’s fire and rescue service, as well as the skill and reliability of emergency service providers and promptness and reliability of firefighters, at 98 percent.

“Quick police response and courteous police officers led to an overall 93 percent approval rating for the Police Department.

“The area that scored lower in the 2014 survey was transportation.

“The feeling among respondents that transportation and road systems adequately support current development fell from 68 percent in 2012 to 62 percent in 2014.

“In 2012, 84 percent of people felt they could easily get around the county in their cars. By 2014, that number dropped to 80 percent. Although this satisfaction rating is much higher than before the county began its road program, it demonstrates that citizens are still concerned about road congestion.

“This was reinforced when the largest number of respondents (44 percent) stated a traffic or transportation-related item was the most important issue for the County to address.

“Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, was quoted as saying, ‘Previous surveys have told us that traffic is an issue. Therefore, knowing that the state was unable to help us in this area, we committed to building our own roads. We have the largest, local road building program in the Commonwealth. And we continue to work on this area to help residents get around more quickly and efficiently.’

“Prince William County has conducted an annual resident survey since 1993, and went to a biennial survey beginning in 2012. The County performs the survey to measure changes in residents’ opinions from year to year; to assess residents’ perceptions of the overall quality life in the county; and to assess perceptions of County services. Surveys can also track changes in demographics and provide insight into issues of importance to the community.

“To review previous community survey results, visit”

2007-10 County Citizen Surveys (biennial after 2010)

PWC_SurveySumary2010 | PWC_SurveyComparison09_10 | full text pdf

PWC_SurveySummary2009 | 2009-10 Comparison | full text PDF


2007 County Citizens Survey (full text)

2007 Citizen Survey: PW citizens “generally dissatisfied with the coordination of development and roads, growth in the county, and planning and land use”
(“Supervisors Get Survey Results” by Keith Walker, Potomac News, 9 Aug 2007)

The top seven:
Citizen satisfaction with:
The bottom seven:
Citizen satisfaction with:
— Service from Library Staff  (98.9%)
— Emergency Medical Rescue (98.5%)
— Fire Fighting in Respondent’s Area (988.4%)
— Security in Courthouse (97.3%)
— Landfill (96.0%)
— Convenience of Registering to Vote ( 994.9%)
— Assistance from 911 Operator (94.6%) <
— Coordination of Development with Road Systems (35.5%)
— Rate of PWC Growth (44.0%)
— Ease of Travel in PWC (46.9%)
— Land Use Planning and Development (47.5%)
— Appearance of Illegal Signs along Major Roads (49.2%)
— County Efforts to Preserve Open Space (51.5%)
— Public Transportation in PWC (57.0%)
According to the executive summary of the 2007 County Citizens Survey (full text):   1. “In general, people are least satisfied with development and transportation issues, suggesting that these areas are in need of improvement despite the significant progress with the ease of travel of getting around within Prince William County.”  2. In the “Long-Term Trends” section,  “satisfaction with the job the County is doing in planning how land will be used and developed is down approximately 6 percentage points from 1993.”  3. Again from the “Long-Term Trends” section, “satisfaction with the County’s value for tax dollars is up more than 15 points since 1993.”

2006 Citizen Survey

2006 “Citizen Survey: PW residents still happy with libraries, tired of traffic”
(by Tara Slate Donaldson, Gainesville Times, 10 Aug 2006)

2006 County Citizens Survey (full text)

The top five:
Citizen satisfaction with:
The bottom five:
Citizen satisfaction with:
— Libraries (99.2%)
— Balls Ford Road Compost Facility (99%)
— Landfill (98.3%)
— Fire protection (97.9%)
— Medical rescue (95.7%)
— Getting around the county (39.6%)
— Growth (44.5%)
— Planning and land use (44.9%)
— Citizen input on development (68.5%)
— Preventing neighborhood deterioration (68.7%)
Other highlights, according to the 2006 County Citizens Survey (full text):   1. “By geographic area, the three lowest levels of satisfaction with the [county’s] rate of growth again came from Brentsville, North County, and Gainesville/Linton Hall (22.5%, 29.7%, and 35.3% respectively).”  2.  “Perhaps not surprisingly, given their dissatisfaction with planning, development, and growth, residents of Brentsville [District] were also the least satisfied with the opportunities for citizen input (59.8%).”  3. “Satisfaction with transportation in the county” has gradually declined from 62.7% in 1999  to 39.6% in 2006.

“Citizen Survey: PW Residents Still Happy With Libraries, Tired of Traffic”

by Tara Slate Donaldson, The Gainesville Times, 10 Aug 2006


“Results are in from the county’s annual citizen satisfaction survey and it comes as no surprise that residents are fed up with driving in Prince William County.

“As usual, voters had good things to say about libraries, the fire and police services and the county in general. But also as usual, planning and land use, growth and transportation were the low points of life in Prince William.

“‘The news is this year you kind of stayed the same,’ said Thomas Guterbock, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Survey Research, which conducted the survey.

“Guterbock told supervisors last week that overall satisfaction with the county government is 90.8 percent and that more than a third said they were ‘very satisfied’ with county services in general.

“The downside, he said, is that questions about traffic and development continue to generate low scores.

“Asked how they felt about the ease of getting around the county, citizens said they weren’t happy. ‘Getting around’ scored 39.6 percent satisfaction, the lowest of any other area. And that number has been sinking.

“‘”Getting around” is the one that’s really going down fast,’ Guterbock said, displaying a chart that illustrates the ‘getting around’ satisfaction dropping from more than 50 percent in 2002 to 39.6 percent in 2006.

“Citizens are also not happy about the county’s growth (44.5 percent satisfied) or its policies on planning and land use (44.9 percent).

“And, Guterbock said, the number of citizens who trust the county government has gone down a little.

“‘I have no idea why this is, but it went from 64 percent last year to 60 percent,’ he said, adding that Brentsville area residents are least likely to trust their government, while those in Lake Ridge and Occoquan are the most likely. In addition, African-Americans are less trusting than whites, but the surveyors were surprised to find that age doesn’t make a difference when it comes to trust.

“On the bright side, residents were extremely pleased with many of the county’s services. Libraries topped the list again this year, pulling in a 99.2-percent satisfaction rating. The new Balls Ford Road compost facility also scored a 99. The county landfill, fire protection and medical rescue services also ranked in the top five.

“The police department, usually a top-five item, also scored high but was bumped out of the top five this year by ‘that upstart compost facility,’ Guterbock said.

“The UVA staff also asked residents whether they want to have fewer services and lower taxes or more services and higher taxes. Most, about 61.8 percent, said they believe things should stay about the same. Roughly 11 percent wanted fewer services and lower taxes. The same number wanted more services and higher taxes. The rest had other ideas, Guterbock said, adding that many said they want to have it both ways — more services and lower taxes.

“The scientific survey of 1,439 randomly selected residents was conducted by phone between May 8 and June 23. The margin of error was less than 3 percent and the survey cost $56,500. This was the first year that Spanish-speaking residents were also included. In the past, the survey could only be taken by English-speakers but this year, when respondents answered the phone, they were given the option of having a Spanish-speaking surveyor call back to ask the questions in Spanish.”

Top five:

Libraries: 99.2 percent

Balls Ford Road compost facility: 99 percent

Landfill: 98.3 percent

Fire protection: 97.9 percent

Medical rescue: 95.7 percent

Bottom five:

Getting around the county: 39.6 percent

Growth: 44.5 percent

Planning and land use: 44.9 percent

Citizen input on development: 68.5 percent

Preventing neighborhood deterioration: 68.7 percent

2005 Citizen Survey

2005 Survey:  County roads, growth need work”
(by Tara Slate Donaldson, Gainesville Times, 19 Aug 2005)

2005 County Citizens Survey (full text)

The top five:
Citizen satisfaction with:
The bottom five:
Citizen satisfaction with:
— Library staff (99.1%)
— Landfill services (98.8%)
— Medical rescue services (98.3%)
— Fire protection services (98.2%)
— Voter registration (97%)
— Coordination of development and roads (34.9%)
— Getting around in Prince William Countty (38.1%)
— Planning and land use (44.8%)
— Efforts to preserve open space (45.1%))
— Growth in county (47.2%)
2005 County Citizens Survey (full text)

Survey: County roads, growth need work

by Tara Slate Donaldson, Gainesville Times

19 Aug 2005

“Not surprisingly, Prince William residents are fed up with traffic problems. They’re also not entirely happy with land use planning or the way the county preserves open space.”

That was the bad news in the most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey, an annual telephone questionnaire that asks residents to rate Prince William County services.

The top five.  Citizen satisfaction with:

  • Library staff — 99.1 %
  • Landfill services — 98.8 %
  • Medical rescue services — 98.3 %
  • Fire protection services — 98.2 %
  • Voter registration — 97.0 %

The bottom five.   Citizen satisfaction with:

  • Ease of travel around Northern Virginia — 24.5 %
  • Coordination of development and roads — 34.9 %
  • Getting around in Prince William County — 38.1 %
  • Planning and land use — 44.8 %
  • Efforts to preserve open space — 45.1 %

“The good news is that citizens are happy with almost everything else, from public safety and libraries to the overall  county government.

“The survey is conducted every year by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia. This year, 1,432 adults were questioned about issues such as transportation, the county Web site, growth and overall quality of life. The survey has a 2.5 percent margin of error.

“The bad news

“One of the key results in the survey was the county’s top five problems.

“Citizens said they were the least satisfied with ease of travel around Northern Virginia, coordination of development  and roads, getting around in Prince William County, planning and land use, and efforts to preserve open space.

“‘They all have to do with issues of development and growth and getting around and that’s been a consistent low point  for you,’ said Thomas Guterbock, the survey director.

“Supervisors were quick to point out that the bottom five items are all issues in which the state government plays a  major role. In fact, said Chairman Sean Connaughton, the lowest satisfaction was with the ease of travel around  Northern Virginia, something the supervisors can’t really control at all.

“Still, said Supervisor Corey Stewart, (R-Occoquan), they ought to be trying harder.

“‘People understand that we can’t pave ourselves out of this hole that we have put ourselves into through uncontrolled high-density growth,’ he said. The transportation nightmare is getting worse and we are part of the problem, not part  of the solution.

“Dissatisfaction with the county’s rate of growth varied by area, with western Prince William residents more unhappy  than those in the county’s more developed east end.

“Brentsville area residents were the least satisfied — only 23 percent said they were happy with growth. The Gainesville and Linton Hall area fared a little better, with 38 percent responding positively. About 39 percent of ‘north county’ citizens said they were satisfied.

“Eastern Prince William communities like Dale City and Woodbridge had much higher satisfaction ratings, ranging from 41.8 percent in the mid-county region to 53.6 percent in the Occoquan area.

“The other bad news for supervisors and residents is that the commute time is continuing to rise. Prince William residents said their average one-way commute time has increased from 40 minutes in 2004 to 45 minutes in 2005. Altogether, the average time spent traveling to work has risen by about 9 minutes in the last four years.

“The good news

“But the good news is that citizens are still ranking their overall quality of life as high — about 7.2 on a scale of 1 to 10.

“And the overwhelming majority are happy with the county government as a whole. Almost 37 percent said they are ‘very satisfied’ with government services and more than 55 percent said they are ‘somewhat satisfied.’  According to Guterbock’s report, that statistic is ‘perhaps the single most important item in the survey.

‘”But there was one more chart that supervisors noted closely. When asked whether they’d prefer higher taxes and more services or lower taxes and fewer services,  most residents — 62 percent — said they’re satisfied with the current tax rate and services. Of the remainder, 12.6 percent wanted lower taxes and fewer services but a statistically equal number (11.2 percent) said they’d rather pay higher taxes for more services.

“Guterbock reported that the other 14.2 percent created their own option, asking for both lower taxes and more services…”

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