Center for Rural PA, PA Local Gov Commission release survey data | Howard J. Grossman

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There is a rural and urban snapshot showing various data, recently released by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission.

This comes about through a survey by local government associations to their members. Rural was defined as living in a county with a population density below the statewide rate of fewer than 291 people per square mile. Urban were considered with a population density above the statewide rate.

Some of the data certainly applies to the Pocono-Northeast counties. This data is for municipal officials.

Here are some of the data delineated in the survey:· Average age in rural area was 61.2 and in urban 61.3.· Percent female was 45 percent in rural and 38 percent in urban.· Percent with Bachelor’s Degree in rural was 35 and urban was 68.· Percent employed in rural was 67 and 58 in urban· Income $100,000 plus was 26 percent rural and 48 percent urban.

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Three most important government issues in rural areas were streets and highways, taxes and spending, and public safety (fire and police); under urban issues they were streets and highways, public safety, and taxes and spending. There were differences, however, in percentage of interest, especially in rural areas with that being 60 percent against urban being 47 percent.

Three most important community issues in rural areas were aging population, then resident apathy, and loss of small businesses, while in urban, the listing was resident apathy, aging population, and loss of small businesses.

In rural areas, the percent of access to the Internet was 97 and in urban areas 99 percent.

43 percent of officials in both rural and urban attend 20 or more hours a month on municipal business.

In rural areas, 58 percent of municipal officials an unopposed while the percentage in urban areas was 42.

71 percent of rural officials planned to run for reelection and in urban areas this was 72 percent.

The future of how these data might look in this region in coming years remains to be seen, however, asking regional officials these type of data regarding their role might be an appropriate survey in coming times. The number of local governments in the Commonwealth and in this region are very high, and knowing the comparison between rural and urban would be important elements to consider as changes occur in municipal participants over time.

Here are some thoughts:· Focus attention on the important role of municipal officials in this region and discover information that can be useful to assist their capability and how rural and urban interests can be examined.· Conduct a regional snapshot of local governmental officials and prepare ideas and suggestions that can help them carry out their responsibilities.· Organize a regional assembly of all local governments based upon the information collected above.· Create a system that can enhance how local governments can better be prepared for extended crises that may arise based upon how the current Pandemic has been handled.

By developing more attention on the critical role of regional local governments, our communities will benefit today and in the future.

Howard J. Grossman, AICP operates his own consulting company, HJG Associates, in Pittston, PA. He has a Master of Public Administration from New York University. He served as Executive Director of the Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania (EDCNEPA). He may be contacted at grossmanhj@aol.com.

This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Opinion: Applying a demographic survey to Poconos