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Center for Community Studies Releases Results of 2015 Lewis County Survey

The Center for Community Studies (CCS) at Jefferson Community College (JCC) released the findings of the 9th Annual Lewis County Survey of the Community at a meeting of the Lewis County Board of Legislators on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

The survey, conducted annually in October since 2007, is an inventory of the attitudes and opinions of a representative sample of Lewis County adult residents. The primary goal of the survey is to collect data regarding quality of life issues of importance to local citizens. A similar study has been completed annually by the CCS in Jefferson County since 2000 and in St. Lawrence County since 2015.  Sponsors of the annual surveys of the North Country communities are Northern New York Community Foundation and the Development Authority of the North Country. Both sponsors provide financial support to assist in the funding of these projects.

Working under the supervision of the CCS research staff, statistics students at the College completed 396 telephone interviews on both the landline and cellular phones of Lewis County adult residents on the evenings of October 26-28, 2015, resulting with an approximate margin of error of ±3.9%.

Highlights of the 2015 Lewis County survey include:

Among the annually-tracked community indicators:

  • Lewis County residents continue to be very positive in their assessment of the “Overall Quality of Life” in the county, with 77% rating this as “Excellent or Good”, and only 2% rating as “Poor”.
  • The attribute of Lewis County that residents perceive most positively is the “Quality of the Environment”, with 89% rating this as “Excellent or Good”, and less than 1% rating as “Poor”.
  • Residents are most concerned with the “Availability of Good Jobs” locally, with 48% rating this community indicator as “Poor”, however, recent improvement has been found in residents’ perceptions of the “Overall State of the Local Economy” and the change in “one’s family’s personal financial situation in the past twelve months”.  Opinions about the local economy appear to be improving, but not necessarily translating into one’s perception about the availability of good jobs.
  • Lewis County residents are very satisfied with both healthcare quality and healthcare access in the county with 69% rating “Healthcare Quality” as “Excellent or Good”, and 66% rating “Healthcare Access” as “Excellent or Good”.
  • Lewis County residents report tremendously high levels of satisfaction with the K-12 education system in the county, with 83% rating this as “Excellent or Good” and only 5% rating it as “Poor”.  Further, when asked whether “Lewis County schools are adequately preparing the youth for the technology and economy of the future”, 69% agree while only 17% disagree with this statement.
  • When asked to identify the most important issue facing the residents of Lewis County, dramatic changes have surfaced in responses over the past two years. “Employment Issues, Loss of Jobs” decreased in response between 2014 and 2015 from 47% to 14%, “Drugs/Alcohol Issues” increased from 0% to 9%, “Healthcare” increased from 2% to 11%, “Taxes” decreased from 19% to 3%, and “Ineffective Government/Leadership” increased in response over the past year from 6% to 14%.  

Among resident opinions regarding several current statewide issues:

  • Lewis County residents voice very loud concern with the Common Core Learning Standards with 40% of adults indicating that they believe that the standards have “worsened” public education and only 8% feeling that they have “improved” public education.
  • The 2% property tax cap in New York State is supported by a plurality of Lewis County residents, with 50% believing that the tax cap is an effective way to manage property taxes while providing counties and school districts sufficient ability to manage their budgets, while 34% do not believe that this is the case.
  • Lewis County overwhelmingly support an increase in the statewide minimum wage (only 17% believe that the minimum wage should not be increased); however, a large majority (65%) believe that the increase should be to a rate that is less than $15 per hour.

The entire survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey instrument are available online.

For more information, contact Joel LaLone, Research Director at the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College, 315-786-2264.