NEWTON FALLS - Results from an online survey gauging residents' opinions have brought mixed reviews on how the village is being run.
''The people who respond to these surveys are civic minded. They both appreciate living in their community and are not hesitant to criticize problems where they see them,'' said Bill Miller of the Trumbull County Planning Commission.
The survey was offered on the village's website as an initial stage of developing its comprehensive plan. It posed several questions about the services, facilities, effectiveness of the city, council's acknowledgment of public input, etc.
About 200 individuals took the survey, 92 percent identified as Newton Falls residents. The majority, 80 percent, rated their overall quality of life in the village as average or above. Respondents also expressed that the village's services and facilities such as parks, street maintenance and schools were average and above.
Trustee Richard Monteville said he was not surprised that so many of the respondents enjoy living in Newton Falls.
''I would say most people who live here are happy and have chosen to live here,'' he said.
- Under 18 - 13%
- 19-29 - 20%
- 40-49 - 20%
- 50-69 - 32%
- 30-39 and +70 - 15%
Resident of Newton Falls:
- Yes - 92%
- No - 8%
Location of work:
- Newton Falls - 29%
- Trumbull County - 29%
- Unemployed - 29%
* Respondents were allowed to be anonymous; results are not proven
''Newton Falls is a friendly place,'' is a statement that 65 percent of the respondents agreed with. However, only 55.5 percent said they spoke well about the village to family and friends.
''Where the (village) deals with problems and crime is where responses fall down a little,'' Miller pointed out.
Between 50 and 60 percent of respondents disagreed with the statements, ''The (village) effectively deals with problems'' and ''Officials do a good job of including the public in their decision making.''
Trustee Phillip Beer said these percents depend largely on who is answering the survey.
''We've had political strife for almost 20 years in Newton Falls,'' Beer said.
Monteville said he has had many people tell him that they don't see a point in coming to the council meetings to voice their opinions because of the way their referendum on the forgiveness tax was turned down last year.
Residents were subject to a tax increase after council's refusal to place on the ballot a referendum that would have allowed residents to vote on the increase last November.
Sixty percent believe crime is a problem in the village. Along with this, 22 respondents said the village needs to plan for police department improvements and 30 directly mentioned, in a fill-in portion of the survey, they would like to see the police department improved.
''It would be interesting to take the survey again after council's recent actions,'' Miller said, referring to the recent firing of police Chief John Kuivila.
Monteville said he believes having Rick Lisum as acting chief will relieve a lot of the dissent. He said he too would like to see improvements. However, he said he isn't sure if crime is any worse in the village than in surrounding areas.
Twenty-four respondents wrote that they would like to see improvements with the village government and 16 mentioned a desire for improved recreational activities.
A couple questions regarding shared services - a recent topic at village council, in terms of policing - found favorable results. Seventy-three percent of respondents are in support of shared services. Twenty-nine respondents mentioned Newton Township and 15 mentioned Braceville Township.
''That I agree with to a certain extent,'' Beer said.
Beer is in support of a joint police department with other communities, but does not support disbanding the department to be run by the Trumbull County Sheriff's office.
The results will be used by the village's planning committee and the county's planning commission to devise a comprehensive plan. The commission is being paid $18,000 by the village to create the plan to address current and future needs of the community so village council can act accordingly. The plan should be available for review in early 2014.