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State Residents See Regionalism as Effective Option for Services; Property Taxes and Education Drive Decisions on Where to Live; Investments in Highway Improvement Are Strong Priority

Connecticut residents believe that some services can be effectively delivered regionally, with public health earning the most support for a regional approach and public safety the least, according to a new statewide survey.

More than 3 in 4 people (76%) say that public health services can be provided on a regional basis, followed by animal control, at 68 percent, and education, at 66 percent. The survey found that 65 percent of state residents believe that library services can be delivered regionally, and 61 percent share that view regarding public safety services.

The survey by InformCT, a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis, and public outreach, looks to help create fact-based dialogue and action in Connecticut. Administered by researchers from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) and Smith & Company, the analysis is based on the responses of residents across Connecticut. The survey of 510 state residents has a margin of error of 5 percent.

Survey respondents were asked about regionalization of services in surveys conducted in the first three quarters this year, and support was generally consistent – respondent’s views of regionalizing the various services did not vary more than four percentage points for any of the policy areas during that time.

Favorability of regionalization of public health services has increased each quarter, while regionalizing education has increased from Quarter 1. While support for regional public safety services has also increased from Quarter 1, it received the least support among the services queried in each survey. Only regionalizing libraries has seen a decline from the first quarter, and preferences for regionalizing animal control has held steady.

 “Increasingly, towns will not be able to afford to sustain the level of services to which they have become accustomed, as budget pressures increase along with a reluctance to raise taxes. Residents showed concern, and a willingness to consider regionalism as a partial solution,” said Robert W. Santy, who serves as Board Chair of Inform CT and is President & CEO of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) Inc.

Property Taxes Most Important Factor in Selecting Town

The survey also found that the most important factor, when choosing a town in which to live, is property taxes (53 percent of respondents describe as “very important”), followed by the quality of the school system (51 percent). Those were the only aspects of the selection process described as very important factor by a majority.

Other factors deemed very important include recent appreciation of home values (30 percent), proximity to transportation and employment (29 percent) and proximity to entertainment ad amenities (24 percent). Only 2 percent indicated that property taxes are “not at all important” in the decision-making process on where to live in Connecticut.

For the first time, the survey looked at transportation in Connecticut, finding that 74 percent said they use their car almost every day. Conversely, more than 80 percent indicated that they had used a local bus (86%) or long distance bus (91%), commuter rail (87%), Amtrak (92%), an airplane (92%) or a bicycle (82%) only once, or not at all, in the past month.

Regarding state spending to improve transportation, respondents ranked highway improvements as the highest priority by a wide margin, with commuter rail, local bus, and bicycle lanes/pedestrian walkways, the next highest ranks. Highway improvements was ranked as the highest priority by more respondents than the other six options combined.

The InformCT Consumer Confidence findings are a valuable and cost-effective strategic planning tool for any company or organization that wishes to take the temperature of the Connecticut consumer, such as financial services institutions, health care providers, insurers, developers, utilities, trade associations, and advertisers. Those who wish to subscribe to regular information can add proprietary questions for their own purposes.

More information about subscribing can be found at InformCT.org.