Missaukee County Council Examines Community Survey Results | News
LAKE CITY – Missaukee County Council considered the results of its community inquiry at its meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
The survey was part of the county’s initiative to learn more about the issues that residents and businesses see as the most important.
In September, the board of directors voted to approve a contract with Polco to create the polls. These polls were shown to engage the community on how they think the board should spend the $ 2.9 million the county will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Missaukee County Administrator Elizabeth Vogel said in August. “And I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure that we get feedback from as many stakeholders as possible in the community… and from anyone who is really passionate about making sure that these dollars touch the lives of residents of Missaukee in the best way. . “
During the meeting, the Board of Directors listened to a presentation by Michelle Kobayashi, representative of the National Research Center, on the survey results from October 22 to November 20.
The results were divided into two groups: responses from residents and responses from businesses. Of the 5,000 households and 295 businesses that responded to the survey, 449 residents and 59 businesses responded.
The survey gives the community a variety of topics and asks them to rate them based on their quality and importance.
Residents and businesses rated the natural environment, safety, and parks and recreation as the highest quality topics in the county. On the other hand, subjects such as utilities, economics and education, arts and culture received the lowest quality scores.
In terms of importance, the economy received the highest rating among residents (89% rating) and businesses (100%). Residents also gave fairly high marks to topics such as safety, the natural environment, and utilities. For businesses, topics such as utilities, health and wellness, and education, arts and culture topped their ratings.
The community was also asked about the challenges they were facing. The main challenge cited by residents and businesses was having access to good internet / broadband services (61% of residents and 68% of businesses cited this as a major problem).
Residents and businesses stuck with the broadband theme, as they also found affordable services and the lack of technology to work from home to be problematic. About 40% or more of businesses also cited the shortage of skilled workers as a problem. About 30% or more of residents understood issues such as affordable housing, exposure to COVID-19, and quality affordable health care.
Another question posed by the survey was to what extent people were informed about ARPA, with less than 40% of residents and businesses saying they were aware of it.
The last two slides of Kobayashi’s presentation focused on funding priorities for the community. Once again, broadband was a major area, with 72% of residents and 81% of businesses citing investments in broadband infrastructure as important.
Residents also mentioned economic assistance to households in difficulty and services / programs aimed at promoting healthy children as funding priorities. The companies also listed services / programs to promote healthy childhoods as a priority, while adding financial assistance to very poor school districts like the rest.
One conclusion Vogel drew from the presentation was to never assume what the outcome might be. While she expected broadband and the economy to grow, she said they didn’t know where the other problems would fall.
“I wasn’t sure how all of the other areas of spending were going to fall in rank and importance from the critical direction,” Vogel said. “So now the board knows that residents want us to invest in early childhood education and low income people. It’s a really good data point that I didn’t have before, and the board didn’t have before.
After the first survey is completed, Vogel said people will soon have the option to interact with the data and see how the results stack up against other places.
In May 2022, Vogel said he would send out another survey to see what changes might emerge over the next six months. She also said they wanted to work on engaging those who didn’t respond to the first survey and educating the community about ARPA funding.
Vogel said they plan to send notices to local schools, the health department and township leaders to come together to discuss how to move forward with the spending of funding the ‘ARPA.
“We see loud and clear that the economy is very important, that broadband is very important,” said Vogel. “So we can divide the stakeholders into different sub-groups. A sort of subcommittee to work on the broadband issue, and another to work on early childhood health and economic aid. … Again, this just helps make the decisions that will help us spend the ARPA funding.