Public safety a top concern in DuPage budget survey
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is preparing to release a proposed county budget for the 2021 fiscal year on Tuesday. And some of his decisions about the spending plan could have been influenced by residents who responded to recent online survey.
"We're here to serve the people," said board member Robert Larsen, who is chairman of the county's finance committee. He said the county board has done a budget survey each year since 2012.
"We want to know what they see as their highest priorities for DuPage County government, especially as we go into finalizing our budget," Larsen said.
The online SurveyMonkey poll was open from July 6 to Sept. 8 and attracted 5,433 respondents -- a 15% increase over the previous year which attracted 4,722.
Nine of the 14 budget questions included topics like infrastructure, health services, flooding and impressions of county government. The remaining questions dealt with demographics.
One take-away from the survey that pleased Larsen was that 94% of respondents marked "yes" on feeling safe in the county. He also stressed how "public safety/court operations and patrolling" came out ahead in a priorities-ranking budgetary question that included "keeping roads in good repair," "services for seniors and the disabled," "environmental initiatives/recycling," "flood control" and "voter services/election administration."
"I doubt there are a whole lot of places around the country where you can say that in 2020, and the highest number of responses in terms of budgetary priorities were in fact for public safety," Larsen said.
According to survey respondents, approximately 79% were in favor increasing early voting locations due to the risk of COVID-19 infection. And nearly 61% approved of DuPage's overall response to the coronavirus (32.5% neither approved or disapproved, while approximately 7% disapproved).
"DuPage County and its leaders have made difficult, proper choices -- not just this year -- but for many years to put us in the position we're in now," Larsen said. "It requires a lot of fiscal discipline." The county's current fiscal year ends on Nov. 30, the same deadline day that the board has to approve the 2021 budget.