Montgomery Co. quality of life gets high marks, but public safety ratings dip

Nine out of 10 Montgomery County, Maryland, residents who responded to a survey say they would recommend their county to others as an excellent or good place to live.

And 85% said they plan on staying in the county for the next five years.



The data has been published in Montgomery County’s biennial survey, conducted between the end of November 2021 and January 2022. The information is based on the responses of 565 people, and the survey has a margin of error rate of plus or minus 4%, according to county officials.

Dave Gottesman, CountyStat Manager with the Office of the County Executive, called it remarkable that the ratings were so high, given the effects of the pandemic.

“One might expect or have expected dips in public sentiment, especially because the survey period was during omicron,” Gottesman said.

Public safety

When it came to public safety, “The overall positivity rating dropped just a little bit” Gottesman said, dipping from 84% positive in 2019 to 77% in 2021.

Asked to state how safe or unsafe they feel, in their neighborhoods during the day, 94% said they feel very or somewhat safe. When asked about their sense of safety in downtown or commercial areas during the day, that number slipped to 87%.

Asked to rate services provided by the police department and sheriff’s office, 76% gave a rating of excellent or good. Crime prevention received comparatively poor marks, with just 64% saying those efforts are excellent or good. That compares to a rating of 70% in 2017.

Ambulance and emergency services were rated excellent or good by 90% of respondents, with just 68% giving emergency preparedness the same grade.

Education

While the ratings for affordable quality child care or preschool haven’t changed much since the 2017 survey, when 49% of people answering the survey felt the availability was excellent or good, 51% feel the same way in the latest report.

The findings for K-12 education show 81% of the respondents in the survey felt education offered in the county is excellent or good. Libraries and the services provided are given high marks from 91% of those answering the survey.

Health

More than 80% felt that health and wellness opportunities were good or excellent. Asked about health services, 78% rated them as excellent or good, but when it came to the availability of affordable mental health care, the number fell to just 52%, a drop of 5% from the 2017 survey.

Governance

Just over half of county residents responding to the survey felt that the services they get for the taxes they pay are excellent or good — that number was 53%. But compared to the services offered by the federal government, the county fared better: 77% of county residents rated local services as excellent or good, while just 55% said federal services deserved the same designation.

Gottesman said the survey was offered in more languages in 2021.

“In addition to the three languages we’ve offered the survey in the past — English, Spanish and Chinese — this past year for the first time, we also offered the survey in additional languages Korean French, Vietnamese, Farsi and Amharic.”

You can read the full report here.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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