County residents worry most about a sluggish economy, cutbacks in government services, and possible tax increases, a new Anne Arundel Community College survey shows.
Reflecting uncertainty brought on by the recession, such concerns have replaced uncontrolled development as the "major problem" facing the county, according to the telephone survey of 479 county residents.
In the college's twice-yearly survey, conducted between Oct. 7 and 10, 75.4 percent of respondents said they believed the county faceda "major problem."
Asked to name it, 18.3 percent listed concernsabout the county budget and possible cutbacks in services; 18 percent said "economic problems," including the possible loss of their jobs; and 14.5 percent said possible tax increases.
But of those who said the county faced a major problem, only 6.7 percent said it was development.
The new survey marks the first since the early 1980s inwhich residents did not list growth and development as a top concern, said Elizabeth Kessel, director of the college's Center for the Study of Local Issues.
"This is a real change," Kessel said. "This isthe first time we've seen these economic concerns emerge as the major problems facing the county."
Among other survey results:
* 58.5 percent believed business conditions are worse now than a year ago.
* 45.5 percent think the economy will improve in the next year or so, while 47.8 percent believe it will not.
* 47.8 percent said it would be better to postpone purchases of items they want or need.
* 51.8 percent expect their personal economic condition to improvewithin the next year, while 40.8 percent do not.
The survey also asked residents to rate the performance of first-term County Executive Robert R. Neall. Most of those who responded gave him good marks.
Neall, a Republican, received "excellent" ratings from 7.9 percent of those surveyed, while 40.2 percent rated him as good, 27.7 percentas fair and 4.8 percent as poor. More than 19 percent did not rate him.
About 43 percent of those surveyed were Democrats; 37 percent were Republicans and 9 percent were independents.
A report accompanying the survey results noted that the college conducted the poll before the General Assembly passed Neall's controversial amendment giving county executives more power to cut the budgets of quasi-state agencies, including school boards.
The survey also occurred before Neall asked county employees to take wage concessions to offset state budget cuts.
The survey has a margin of error of no more than 5 percentage points.