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Center for Community Studies Releases 12th Annual Jefferson County Survey of Community Results

The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College presented an overview of the findings of the 12th Annual Jefferson County Survey of the Community during the Center's annual meeting held at Jefferson Community College on June 23. 

The survey is an inventory of the attitudes and opinions of a representative sample of Jefferson County residents. The primary goal of the survey is to collect data regarding quality of life issues of importance to local citizens.

Working under the supervision of the Center for Community Studies research staff, statistics students at the College completed 406 telephone interviews on the evenings of April 4-5, 2011.

Highlights of this year’s survey include:

  • Jefferson County residents are very satisfied with the overall quality of life in the area, with 77% of respondents rating it as either "Getting Better" or "Staying the Same".
  • Residents reported most frequently that the following aspects of our community are "Getting Better": shopping opportunities, the Downtown of Watertown, and Internet access.
  • Residents indicated most frequently that the following aspects of our community were "Getting worse": the cost of energy, the availability of good jobs, real estate taxes, and the overall state of the local economy.
  • The percentage of Jefferson County residents perceiving the quality of K-12 education as "getting worse" was at the highest rate ever measured (20%), and the percentage rating K-12 education as "getting better" was a the lowest rate ever (21%).
  • When asked about which of five State funding areas they would be most inclined to not cut at all (among corrections, higher education, Medicaid, K-12 education, and public safety), the most residents (68%) chose K-12 education.
  • Of the five State funding areas mentioned above, the two receiving the most support for the Governor's full funding cuts were corrections (15%) and Medicaid (12%).
  • Over 56% of respondents rate “Overall State of the Local Economy” as "getting worse", not significantly changed from 2010(54%) and still well below the peak year for this rating in 2009 (72%). Similarly, approximately a quarter of the participants  indicate that they are now working at a job where their pay is less than an earlier job they had held (26% in both 2010 and 2011).  
  • Residents of Jefferson County agree with, by more than a 3:1 margin, the notion that “the recent growth of Fort Drum since 2003 has improved the overall quality of life of Jefferson County citizens.”
  • The so-called "millionaire's tax" was supported by solid majorities of County residents across every demographic category measured (gender, age, education level, household income, political beliefs).
  • Residents supported a 2% property tax cap across every demographic category by at least a two-to-one margin.
  • Other than for blogs, residents reported an average of 12% increased usage of various Internet types previously measured since last measured in 2010, and 62% indicated use of social networking sites in the past month.
  • All four types of renewable energy sources studied received a majority of support from residents, ranging from a high of 88% for hydropower to 81% for wind power, 80% for small-scale wind power, and 68% for biomass (wood or grass).
  • The business sector that was rated "very important" to the Jefferson County economy by the most respondents was “maintaining farms and agriculture” (87%), while having wind farms in the region was rated "very important" by 45%.


The entire survey, including a summary of the results and the complete survey instrument, is available on the Jefferson Community college website by following this link for the Center for Community Studies and clicking on ‘Annual Survey.’

The Center for Community Studies extends its appreciation to the Northern New York Community Foundation, the Herring College Memorial Trust, Carthage Federal Savings & Loan and Jefferson Community College for their generous support of the Jefferson and Lewis County Annual Surveys. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Raymond Petersen, Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College, 315-786-2488.