Scarborough residents are more satisfied with their town’s services and COVID-19 response than residents elsewhere in the nation, according to a recent survey, but they are concerned about growth, property taxes and affordable housing.

Residents rated Scarborough 14% above the national average for town services and 42% above the average for customer service from town employees, according to the survey conducted by ETC Institute, a Kansas-based market research firm that specializes in state and local government.

The seven-page survey was completed by 862 residents in the fall of 2021 and has a margin of error of 3.2%. It was the first general survey the town has commissioned in 11 years and cost $19,950, which had been included in the town budget. The town says it will use the results to shape Town Council initiatives and shape future policy decisions.

“Citizens in all parts of the town are satisfied with the overall town services,” Jason Morado, ETC’s director of community research told theĀ  council at a workshop Wednesday evening. “It also shows that you are providing services equally throughout the town.”

ETC surveys elsewhere show that residents in less densely populated parts of communities tend to be less satisfied with services, he said.

Residents’ positive opinion on the town’s pandemic response was “amazing,” Morado said, with 75% saying they were either satisfied or very satisfied. Nationally, only 33% of respondents to ETC’s numerous studies since March of 2020 are satisfied with their municipality’s response, according to ETC.

“These are really amazing results,” Morado said. “More than double the regional and national average.”

For the overall quality of life in Scarborough, 86% of residents said they were satisfied.

Respondents were asked to identify what they believe will be Scarborough’s three greatest challenges in the next five years.

Over 70% of respondents said Scarborough’s growth and expansion is a significant issue. Specifically, more than two-thirds said single-family and multi-family residential development is occurring too quickly, while 48% said that income-restricted and workforce housing are developing too slowly.

Two-thirds of residents are concerned about property taxes, according to the survey. Scarborough’s tax rate is $14.02 per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a $400,000 home, for example, pays $5,608 in property taxes.

A lack of affordable housing is a significant issue, according to 41% of respondents.

Respondents also were asked what three areas the town should focus its efforts over the next two years. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said the town should put an emphasis on the flow of traffic and ease of getting around town, with 30% saying that should be the town’s top priority. Meanwhile, 42% said maintenance of streets and infrastructure should be among the top three priorities, while 29% said education should be.

Scarborough is 14% below the national average level of satisfaction when it comes to traffic flow, and 24% below for public transportation.

“Scarborough doesn’t really lend itself to a whole lot of public transportation,” Town Councilor Paul Johnson said. “I think that’s just the reality. We’re not going to have too many bus stops in west or north Scarborough.”

Johnson said that he could see the town focusing on public transportation in high-growth areas moving forward.

When it comes to potential projects for the town, 40% said they support the consolidated school project and 30% said they were against it. Receiving the most support was a community center with 69% of residents in favor of one and 14% against.

More than 81% of survey respondents said that one of their primary sources of town information comes from newspapers, with the town website cited as the next most popular source.

Over 4,000 paper surveys were mailed to randomly-selected households in November. After reaching the targeted 600 responses, the survey was opened up online to those who didn’t receive a mailed survey.

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