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Dakota County rates high in survey

They like living here.

In the most recent Dakota County Residential Survey, residents continue to rate the quality of life in Dakota County very highly.

Dakota County has completed a regular, periodic survey of residents since 2001. This year's survey was handled by the National Research Center Inc., and was administered by mail to 2,600 randomly selected households in February. It was distributed among the seven county commissioner districts.

A total of 803 surveys were completed, or a response rate of 32 percent.

Residents ranked the quality of life in Dakota County as a 76 on a 100-point scale. When asked about what they liked best about living in Dakota County, the most common responses were location, general quality of life, and their neighborhoods.

On the flip side, residents said they consider taxes (16 percent) and crime (14 percent) to be the most serious issues in the county. Traffic congestion and a sense of community were among other issues that residents most considered serious issues for the county.

Among the issues that were least likely to be mentioned as concerns were teen drug or alcohol use, and growth and development.

Among Dakota County residents' greatest health concerns were overweight adults and children, quality of parenting skills, illegal drug use, and bullying.

Residents said the county was safe, with road safety as the biggest safety concern. The average rating respondents gave to safety in their neighborhoods was 80 on a 100-point scale, a rating considered between "somewhat safe" and "very safe."

The issues that scored lowest for safety in the county were distracted, drunken or impaired drivers, motor vehicles crashes, and injuries while biking or walking on county roads.

Residents approved of the county government performance. Almost nine in 10 approved of the job the Dakota County Board of Commissioners is doing. Average rating was 68 on a 100-point scale and was similar to the rating in 2011.

Likewise, high marks were given for county services - average rating of 62 on a 100-point scale. The services receiving the highest ratings were libraries, parks and recreation and trails and bikeway system. The assessment/property tax system received the lowest rating.

A majority of residents are opposed to raising taxes to maintain current county service levels. Fewer residents supported the idea than those who opposed it. Six in 10 opposed the idea.

Protecting/restoring prairies, woods, lakes, ponds and wetlands was given the highest importance rating, followed by trail network for hiking, biking, or skiing and gathering spaces in picnic grounds and shelters.

Residents relied on the county newsletter and weekly community newspapers to stay informed about Dakota County. And, county website use was up.

When asked what services would be used on the website, the most desired services were renewing or applying for a license, permit or other application, applying for a library card and/or use of other library resources and paying fees, fines or property taxes.