Survey Says: Life’s Pretty Good in Pitkin County, But With Some Worries

Mar 11, 2014

Credit Pitkin County

Residents of Pitkin County have given a thumbs-up for county government and services. That’s according to a survey done by a private firm, which presented its findings to Pitkin County Commissioners on Tuesday, March 11th. The survey had residents fill out a questionnaire. It covered a wide variety of topics. And despite overall satisfaction, residents say there are some issues they are concerned about.


Chris Tatham is Vice President of ETC Institute, the company that carried out the survey. ETC has surveyed hundreds of communities across the country. And Tatham says Pitkin County’s results are unusual. When mapped out and color coded, he had to check them again, to make sure they were right.

“I don’t typically see maps where the entire county is in dark blue. Because that means the average person everyone throughout the county is giving excellent or very satisfied ratings. Just doesn’t happen.”

Except in Pitkin County. Those high ratings are for government services overall… as well as how well residents think their tax dollars are being spent. Even the airport got an outstanding response. Tatham told County Commissioners on Tuesday that Pitkin should be proud of its results… but pointed out they also reveal life in Pitkin County is not all roses.

“Even though you have great ratings for quality of life, even though people feel very good about the local government, there are still concerns about things like the economy. Like jobs, and affordable housing.”

Concerns that Tatham didn’t expect, since residents rated overall quality of life so high in Pitkin County. That’s usually the same as how residents view the economy-- and here, only eleven percent of people surveyed thought the county isn’t a good place to work.

“When I typically see that, I think there’s a community where people are not too worried about the economy. But then you go back to other questions in the survey, where people had concerns. And we had a very high percentage of folks, concerned about the availability of employment. We’ve actually got one in five people actually, saying they’re dissatisfied.”

We asked if it’s possible that living in a such a scenic place could bring up the quality of life….Could that be why residents of Pitkin County say life is good overall, even if there aren’t enough jobs?

“There’s a lot of pretty places I’ve surveyed, but most of the pretty places don’t necessarily like their local government.”

Which is not true of most Pitkin County residents who took the recent survey. Another topic Pitkin County asked about was internet and cell service at home. The County has said it may be part of an effort to expand cell service. Survey results show Pitkin County residents don’t have perfect internet and cell access at home… but it wasn’t horrible, either.

Going forward, top concerns for residents who answered the survey are:

“The process for obtaining permits and construction, economic sustainability, how well the county is managing growth”

… As well as perception of drop off and electronics recycling. ETC Institute often does regular surveys for communities -- sometimes more than once a year. A spokesman for Pitkin County says it’s not clear yet whether officials will sign on for another survey in the future.

You can see the full survey results here.