Residents rate county highly, but crime a worry
Olmsted County residents have a positive view of the county as a place to live, work and raise a family, according to results from a recent National Research Center survey.
But residents also worry about crime — perhaps more than they should — the data showed.
On a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represented "poor" and 100 represented "excellent," Olmsted County residents rated the county's overall quality of life at 73, per results shared during an Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday. The result is similar to Olmsted's rating in previous years and higher than the National Research Center's nationwide benchmark for counties.
Residents gave Olmsted the highest survey ratings for the county as a place to raise a family, 73; a place to live, 72; and a place to work, 71.
The survey results showed residents had less favorable perceptions of the county for its availability of affordable child care and availability of affordable housing; both categories received a rating of 41 on the 100-point scale.
County residents were most concerned with crime and taxes when asked to evaluate seven potential problem areas. Crime, or at least the perception of crime, showed up in more than one area of the county's survey results.
Olmsted County survey respondents reported feeling less safe from violent crime than the national benchmark, and also reported feeling less safe than the benchmark for feeling safe while using county parks and trails.
Olmsted residents reported feeling safer from illegal drug activity, identify theft and distracted drivers than they did in a 2013 National Research Center survey.
Olmsted County board member Sheila Kiscaden wondered whether the county had a crime problem or only a perception of a crime problem.
"I find it interesting that people's perception of crime is worrisome," she said. "I think the data shows that our actual crime statistics differ from the public perception."
That is not an uncommon phenomenon, said Erin Caldwell, National Research Center director of research.
"I don't know the specifics for your community, but I would say that's not an uncommon problem, where resident perception might be different from what the reality is," Caldwell said.
The results are available online at co.olmsted.mn.us .
Surveys were mailed to 2,100 Olmsted County residents and 723 of those surveys were returned.