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Emergency services valued by residents

While Las Vegas officials are meeting directly with residents in a series of town hall meetings, the city already has two other surveys indicating that, given the current budget crunch, residents value fire and safety services and programs for youth and seniors the most.

The city gathered data through a telephone survey and focus panels.

Three sociology professors from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas led the focus panels, which consisted of five groups meeting in October and November. In all, 31 people recruited from seven randomly selected neighborhoods participated.

The results, presented to council members last week, showed that residents are interested in increasing youth programs, maintaining fire and emergency medical services, and continuing to create and maintain parks and community centers.

The panelists said they were satisfied with both fire and emergency medical responses as well as animal control services, and said those should not be cut.

The telephone survey was run by UNLV’s Cannon Survey Center, which collected responses from 972 city residents from August to October.

It found that at least 85 percent of respondents said the following should not be reduced: safety services; youth and senior programs; fire prevention; traffic enforcement; and response times to wrecks, medical emergencies, and violent and nonviolent crime.

The city should place more emphasis on economic development and job creation, foreclosure prevention, senior and low-income family services and after-school programs, respondents said.

Twenty percent of respondents said all city services should be reduced. Cultural programs and parks and recreation came in lowest on the phone survey’s list of priorities, although the question asked whether money should be added to those programs.

That’s not necessarily a contradiction, said Robert Futrell, a sociology professor who led the focus panel part of the survey. The different methods — phone survey, focus group and town hall — work together.

"What they’re doing is in my view the best they can do with research, which is they’re triangulating," Futrell said. "They all provide different kinds of information."

For instance, in the focus groups, parks issues tended to be linked with youth. If youth are important, then parks are too, the panels concluded.

The city is spending $35,000 on Your City, Your Way, a spokesman said — $25,000 for the surveys and $10,000 for the focus groups.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

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