STA Proposed Sales Tax Increase Polling Improves, But Still Below Two-Thirds Margin

June 5, 2015 | Close, but no cigar.  That is how the results of survey conducted by the Sacramento Transit Authority (STA) to g...

June 5, 2015 |

Close, but no cigar. 

That is how the results of survey conducted by the Sacramento Transit Authority (STA) to gauge if two-thirds of Sacramento County voters would approve a proposed half-cent sales tax could be described. The survey, which was conducted in late May showed that while support improved in their fully disclosed sampling to about 57-percent, it was still below the 66.6-percent majority need to imposed a new sales tax .

According to the report, "Based on the initial “top-line” data, voter support for a supplemental half percent [half-cent] transportation sales tax measure has improved a few points in the past 18 months, but is still well below the two-thirds majority that would be required for passage. Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated preliminary support for the sample ballot label language, while 33-percent indicated that they would vote no. After the polling representatives read about a dozen supportive statements, the level of support stayed at 63-percent. After the polling representative read about a half dozen opposition statements, support dropped to 57-percent. The implication is that undecided or “swing” voters will much more likely be persuaded by opposition arguments than supporting arguments."

The report also states that STA consultants advise that a 60-percent affirmative base is needed to proceed to the ballot in hopes of capturing a sufficient number of undecided voters to reach the two thirds target. 

A county-wide sales tax increase has been the keystone of the Elk Grove City Council's decision to forgo budgeting $8 million in annual road maintenance. When the matter was brought to the council's attention in 2013 by Elk Grove Public Works' Director Richard Shepard and again in 2014, the council decided to continue to let city roads further deteriorate in hopes of passage of the county-wide sales tax.

The STA report also notes that while there seems to be resistance by voters to the half-cent tax increase for general transportation infrastructure, data has suggested that support may exist for a shorter-term sales tax aimed at road maintenance. To that end, the STA is seeking approval by its board for an additional $30,000 to conduct a survey for a "maintenance only" initiative. 

STA's next meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 11 at the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Chambers,  700 H St., Sacramento. The complete report can be viewed here.        

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Not a "Stakeholder" said...

When you published those cracks in the pavement along Laguna, you inadvertently played into the City's hand by publicizing the case they will make why voters should pass a sales tax increase, local or county-wide (or both?). I suspect the Great Pothole PR campaign will soon begin to publicize the deteriorating streets. They will then sprinkle in some enticements, such as new trails to help sway the voters to approve the sales tax. This is similar to the police press releases reinforcing how critical police services are-and positioning themselves in case revenues fall short for those future revenue bonds and the General Fund has to make up for it somewhere.

EGN said...

"Not a stakeholder"

Thanks for the comments and an interesting perspective. No doubt the City of Elk Grove and/or STA will unfurl a PR campaign to win passage of the half-cent sales tax increase should it appear on the 2016 ballot.

As for playing into the hands of the Elk Grove City Council, I would have to respectfully disagree on a number of counts.

Based on data complied by Google Analytics, while EGN has a strong and consistent audience of people who follow Elk Grove politics, in no way do we have the reach of outlets like the Sacramento Bee or any of the local TV news outlets. People in Elk Grove who vote but don't closely follow city politics, are unlikely to refer to this outlet. They are more likely to watch TV at 6, 10 or 11 p.m. to get their news.

After following the various Elk Grove City Council members for 15 years, they can be characterized, in my opinion, in a number of different ways. One characteristic, individually and collectively that none of them have possessed is cleverness. Machiavellian, perhaps, but not that clever as to use sway EGN voters to change whatever their position might be on a possible sales tax increase. As we saw with the recent Gil Moore case, council members lack the courage and independence to do the right thing when it runs counter to the wishes of their patrons.

Furthermore, I suspect they would prefer not to have any serious discussion of their on-going failure to pay for road maintenance on a as-you-go basis. Such a discussion points our their deliberate excessive discretionary spending while the less-sexy and more important day-to-day functions as road maintenance are neglected. As I mentioned to a colleague recently, they are behaving, in my opinion, like deadbeat parents.

As for your point about enticements to either an STA or city tax increase ballot for a "pothole" program as outlined in the STA staff report linked to this story, I agree entirely. (Law enforcement agencies use this same tactic effectively too.) They will sweeten it with, as you suggested, with promises to build a few new trails or something along those lines. That may be all the city needs to do to sway enough people who vote but do not necessarily closely pay attention to matters as the the typical EGN reader does.

Anonymous said...

I have serious doubts that EGN had any impact on our officials failure to keep our infrastructure in repair. Local officials need to prove to the public that they can make smart investments and that requires a big vision that clearly lays out benefits for local citizens and delivers results. Until they do that I don't see any benefit in a sales tax increase.....just more money for them to fluff away on their pet projects. We're already burdened with heavy taxes and are seeing little in return.

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