Most Potsdam village respondents say services worth the cost
Saturday, June 2, 2018 - 5:28 pm

POTSDAM -- Most village residents in Potsdam queried in a recent poll would prefer to keep current village services and have property taxes rise rather than cut services to accommodate a property tax cut.

Another highlight of the 2018 Potsdam Poll showed that 80 percent of village residents feel their quality of life in the village is good to excellent.

About half of respondents didn’t want an armed officer in Potsdam schools, while about one-third did.

More than half think the village should fluoridate its water, while fewer than one in five do not.

Rob Hinckley, assistant professor in SUNY Potsdam’s politics department, supervised the survey, which was designed and conducted by his students.

Hinckley notes that in previous Potsdam polls most of the respondents said village property taxes were too high.

In this year’s poll, residents were asked about a hypothetical tradeoff between cutting property taxes and keeping the existing range of municipal services provided by the Village of Potsdam. Keeping the existing services, even if property tax rates continue to grow, was the most popular option.

They were asked, “Some people think that our local property taxes should be cut, even if that means giving up some municipal services. Other people think we should keep our current municipal services even if property tax rates will continue to grow. Which comes closer to your view?”

The response was that 31 percent favored cutting taxes, 56 percent said to keep existing services, and 13 percent said they were not sure.

The poll asked residents what they found most attractive about village life.

“The most popular reason is the ability to walk places (80 percent), followed by the availability of village services (61 percent). Many residents also like the neighborhood feel of the village’s residential streets (58 percent),” Hinckley said in his summary of highlights, or “tagline results.”

Many residents said they were engaged in the civic life of the community.

“More than 75 percent report being a member of one or more community groups, which includes a range of community or religious service organizations and charity groups” the highlights report said.

Improving landscaping on Market Street was the only new community project that a substantial number of residents – 33 percent – said they would support with their own time and effort.

But residents also report facing a number of obstacles to becoming more engaged in the village’s civic life. “The most common reasons cited are family obligations (31 percent) and poor health (22 percent). About 19 percent feel that they lack sufficient information about volunteer opportunities, which could potentially be addressed by reaching this group online, as they tend to be people between 25-35, are not in college and are frequent users of social media,” Hinckley’s summary said.

The poll also asked about several current issues:

• About 49 percent of residents oppose the Potsdam Central School District hiring an armed resource officer; 32 percent favor the idea; 19 percent are unsure.

• Nearly 54 percent favor fluoridating the village water supply, 18 percent are opposed, and 28 percent are unsure.

• About 48 percent of residents support a Route 11 bypass around the Village of Potsdam, while 28 percent oppose the idea and 24 percent are unsure.

This year’s poll was delivered to residential households as a paper form with their copies of the April 4 edition of North Country This Week, resulting in 153 mailed responses.

Hinckley says that the margin of error in the survey is plus-or-minus 7 percent, which “reflects sampling error only; in survey research, there is always the risk that question wording and other problems may introduce error into the results.”

This poll project was supported by an applied learning award endowed by Robert J. Hill, a 1977 SUNY Potsdam graduate, through the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning at the college.

Questions about the 2018 Potsdam Poll should be directed to Prof. Hinckley at 315-267-2563 or [email protected].

Hinckley has offered to prepare a more detailed analysis of these results community and municipal organizations upon request.