The 53-question telephone survey, conducted by experts at the University of Kentucky, queried 410 Winchester and Clark County residents at random on issues ranging from growth tax incentives, local water rates and a smoking ban. With a margin or error of 4 percent, Dr. Ron Langley - who headed the study - has told officials the numbers closely reflect views of Clark Countians.
It was funded by the Clark County Community Foundation.
Burtner said officials intend to use the information as a basis for a 2008 community forum, similar to the one held in March, where officials and residents spent an entire day developing a framework of ideas for the community's future.
"That information from the March 17 event, and this information from this survey, is information that the city commission, the Fiscal Court and the Board of Education will be using as part of their decision-making process," the mayor said.
Burtner stressed that the effort will not replace the comprehensive plan for planning and zoning, which is updated every five years.
"This is intended to be much further down the road," he said. "The most difficult challenge I think for pubic officials is to work in the now and think in the future."
Among some of the survey's findings were:
- 83.4 percent of respondents are in favor of consolidating fire and law enforcement services if results in cost savings and provides for the same quality of service.
- 84.8 percent of respondents support the creation of a research committee to study the costs and benefits of merging city and county government.
- 86.5 percent of respondents are in favor of more Clark County fire stations.
- 71.2 percent of respondents favor denying new zoning requests for residential lots until existing zoned areas are developed.
- 83.9 percent of respondents favor requiring green space in new developments.
- 62.8 percent of respondents strongly agree or somewhat agree that Clark County Schools has adequate facilities to ensure optimum student achievement.
- 54.2 percent of respondents would support a tax increase if it would better prepare students to compete in the future.
- 81.4 percent of respondents said it was very important to increase post-high school education opportunities locally.
- 73.5 percent of respondents favor regular annual increases of rates at Winchester Municipal Utilities instead of larger periodic increases.
- 84.2 percent of respondents favor curbside recycling services.
- 74.5 percent of respondents believe local government should be involved in recruiting commercial businesses such as restaurants and retail establishments.
- 65.2 percent of respondents favor a smoking ban in public places such as restaurants, bars and workplaces.
- 53.1 percent of respondents believe Clark County law enforcement and other local agencies are making progress on reducing local drug abuse.
- 73.8 percent of respondents favor tax incentives to recruit new industrial development.
- 67.3 percent of respondents favor tax incentives for businesses to locate downtown.
Burtner said he hopes people will participate in the forum next March, when the survey will form the basis of discussion. Officials will also develop a report card at that time on progress that has been made toward issues identified last year.
He pointed out that local government has made visible progress in at least two areas - commercial development and revisions to planning and zoning.
"That's two examples of things that came out of the March 17 meeting," he said.
Branham added that he also believed in strategic planning and emphasized that the Fiscal Court has adopted an ordinance and resolution in efforts to support a visioning process.
In response to a later question about growth, Branham said: "One thing I'm a firm believer in is our community is going to grow. What we need to do is to take control of our own destiny as a community."
The entire survey can be viewed on Winchestersun.com.