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Cut Social Services, Not Public Safety, Residents Say

A poll of nearly 3,000 Pinellas County residents asked respondents about budget-cutting priorities.

Pinellas County released the results of a budget survey taken be nearly 3,000 residents this week. 

In it, residents said overall they were satisfied with the services the county provided and how tax dollars were used.

The areas that the public said they cut first and were the lowest priority were public services like public housing and financial assistance for utility bills for families in need.

Areas that should be cut last, according to the survey results, were public safety, parks and environmental programs. 

From Aug. 25-29, Pinellas County posted an online survey county residents could take to state their priorities about county services and where budget cuts should be made. 

Survey Results

1. How would you rate the way Pinellas County provides service to residents?

  • Excellent - 15.6%
  • Good - 60.5 percent
  • Fair - 20.6%
  • Poor - 3.3%

2. How would you rate the way Pinellas County provides value for tax dollars?

  • Excellent - 8.9%
  • Good - 45.2%
  • Fair - 35%
  • Poor - 10.9%

Fort De Soto

3. Would you support an entrance fee to Fort De Soto Park?

  • Yes - 69.8%
  • No - 30.s%

4. If yes, would you be willing to pay an $8 entrance fee?

  • Yes - 44.4%
  • No - 55.6%

5. Would you be willing to pay a $5 entrance fee?

  • Yes - 73.4%
  • No - 26.6%

6. What about a $75 annual pass?

  • Yes - 31.2%
  • No - 68.8%

7. Have you visited Fort DeSoto Park within the past three years?

  • Yes - 66%
  • No - 34%

County Services

8. What service comes to mind that the County should cut first?

  • Social Services - 24%
  • Taxes/Salaries/Budget - 20%
  • Economic/Community Development - 15%
  • Parks - 10%
  • Public Safety - 8%
  • Transportation - 7%
  • Other - 5%
  • Environment - 5%
  • Housing - 3%
  • Schools - 2%
  • Utilities - 1%

9. One idea to reduce costs is closing certain branch offices that provide services such as driver’s licenses, paying taxes, and voter registration. Would you be willing to drive further if closing some of these locations saved the County money?

  • Yes - 80.3%
  • No - 19.7%

10. How much longer would you drive?

  • 30 mins - 29.4%
  • 20 mins - 54%
  • 10 mins - 16.6%

11. If reducing the number of county customer service representatives would save money, would you be willing to conduct more transactions online?

  • Yes - 87.9%
  • No - 12.1%

12. What county service would you cut last?

  • Public Safety - 37%
  • Parks - 20%
  • Social Services - 13%
  • Transportation - 9%
  • Environmental - 6%
  • Schools/Libraries - 4%
  • Taxes/Budgets/Salaries - 4%
  • Utilities - 2%
  • Other - 2%
  • Economic Development - 2%
  • Housing - 1%

A majority of the respondents, 64% live within incorporated cities in the county, 98 percent were property owners and most respondents, 62.8%, were between the ages 40-64.

The county said it also conducted a phone survey on April 29 that closely mirrored the results of the online survey. 

BigMike Brand May 26, 2012 at 11:58 AM
wHERE WERE THESE 3000 PEOPLE LIVING? IN $300,000 HOUSES IN THE "rich" NEIGHBORHOODS? YOU THINK YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE HOMELESS NOW,, TRY CUTTING THE EXTRA HELP IT TAKES FOR SOME PEOPLE TO JUST SCRAPE BY ON THEIR SS MONEY. FIGURE OUT HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE WILL BE ON THE STREET..
just me in st. pete May 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM
What public safety were they talking about? Do they mean like the school speed zone sting operation in my neighborhood yesterday? A female officer not dressed in the usual police uniform just in pants and tshirt stands in a parking lot with a radar at the ready to catch drivers as they cross 22nd Avenue going 20-25 mph instead of the 15 mph school zone speed an hour after school has started and all the kids are already safely inside. Police cars hiding on the side streets then whip out and pull one car after another over for a nice big fat ticket!
Catherine May 26, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I continue to believe that that $50 million going to create an entirely new Pier is money not being spent on what's most needed at this time. Fix the existing Pier and use the surplus of money to rebuild the Police Station, and add aid to other areas of greatest need at this time. We are still in a recession people; at times like this money should not be thrown around on items not necessary to the betterment of all.
Dharma May 26, 2012 at 03:16 PM
i agree catherine its stupid, we dont need anything new here until we are newly founded by lots of money each person can make, that is a disgrace, i worked at a gallery this last week and no one wants it and they think its a disgrace to even assume we need it. people come for that pier take it down and add a walk way in glass its spending the money for nothing. take it out of your own pockets not all of ours.
Dharma May 26, 2012 at 03:17 PM
why didnt i get that survey? who got that? anyone? you know?
Judy Landon May 26, 2012 at 04:04 PM
This survey deals with County services, not the City of St. Petersburg. The St Petersburg funds proposed for pier improvement come from tax increment financing, not general funds that the City can use any way and anywhere it chooses. The money comes from taxes imposed on businesses within a certain area of downtown (called Intown), and has been accumulating for decades. Because it is a special tax for a certain area, the funds must be used within that certain area on projects that will increase the value of that certain area. If you were one of those merchants and property owners paying this tax all this time, would you want the money to go to the general fund? That's a moot point because the money can legally only be spent within the area of the tax increment financing. That's how government frequently works, with earmarked funds. For example, gas taxes go toward transportation improvements, period. Now, if you want to spend the $50 million on a new police station, the new police station would have to be located in the Intown area, for starters. (The current station is not in the Intown area.) If the property owners of Intown would agree to that, it might happen.
Lenny Flank May 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
This is just a push poll. Why didn't they ask about the BEST option---raise the taxes so we don't HAVE to cut anything. Without taxes, we have no government. Without government, we have no civilization. Without civilization, we all live like Somalia. No thanks. Raise my taxes. Please.
Red May 26, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Dump the lens! The pier before this one, the million dollar pier, would blend with our city. The extra cash have that go to an addition to the Cop Shop.I bet that old building on central (the one with all that unused parking) Central& MLK&8th street would make a heck of a police station addition, police station plus a pier for a LOT less than 110 million.
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Here! Here! On all counts! It's always cutting very necessary assistance to those most in need that everyone with money and comfort and security aim their slashers at.
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Well, if they hadn't been speeding through school areas, they would not have gotten a big fat ticket. I am in full support of nailing speeders in school and youth areas. Why shouldn't they get a ticket when they are careless with the lives our youth or anyone for that matter. Speeding through those areas is careless. Slow down if you don't want a ticket. I would also like to see more BIG FAT Tickets doled out to those who think talking on a cell phone while driving is perfectly acceptable. It isn't. I'd much rathger see that speeder and cell phone talker get a big fat ticket than to see more social services for the needy get cut, for pete's sake, where are our priorities!
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Unless the police station is falling down around our finest's knees and the pier serves incoming vessels bringing food and medical to us, then skip a rebuilding of both and put all the money towards helping the needy in our community survive these desperate times and that includes education and reeducation. These times do not call for luxuries or wants but rather the feeding of basic human needs.
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Here, here!
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Not me. I read about it last week on the train but I never saw it and don't know anyone who did.
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Where exactly do tax increment funds come from. Don't all tax dollars come from us, in one way or another, the poor to middle class majority, the people, the hungry and down trodden, those who were diligent at paying those taxes until they lost everything in an economy that our government created and fostered in the name of making the few, privileged richer. Is it possible to sue our entire government for pulling an Enron?
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I like the way you think! How many people could be helped with $110M!
Trace Taylor May 27, 2012 at 03:01 PM
People are barely scraping by, loosing their homes, unable to find employment and you want to raise taxes! How about we simply, for once, make all the rich and big businesses pay proportionate gross revenue taxes. How about we legalize marijuana and tax the heck out of it. That alone would fund medical and education. How about we legalize prostitution, an ancient and respectable service, and tax the heck out of it. That would build your new purposeless pier and afford sex workers proper medical and safety. How about we stop paying everyone at the upper levels of government embarrassingly large incomes, limo and bodyguard services, and high end restaurant meals and extravagant banquets when people in this country are starving. How about we start limiting the heights to which oil companies can rip us off at the pump and make them pay income proportionate taxes. The list goes on, and on, and on. How about we start acting like people matter and like we have a speck of commonsense and decency.
Dharma May 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
WE dont need new police stations we need to repair what is there. We dont need to do all that new stuff until we are all sure that is what is necessary. WE are not only of sound mind but we are also able to understand economics and how it words. I do believe people say, we have a surplus how should we spend it, oh lets just declare the pier unfit. or tell the cops they need a bigger better and more whatever place to do their thing. Sorry its much different we have endless homeless, endless hungry, endless unable to get a job. take that money and continue to pay people who need those service the money they get for doing them. again its called a wage, just like anyone who goes out and gets paid for a job. there is nothing for free here. so lets stop the bull and get honest. fix the pier, leave the police to fix their station. not build them one. good god. how many people do u each know today that can say, oh my house is in need of repair so i will just build a new one. cash is over there.. please.............. wake up, we get what your doing and don't like it. we the people understand budget and if u have enought to build then we must make that choice not you.

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