Survey shows support for Truckee road tax
Polling on extending a road maintenance tax showed strong support in Truckee ” and provided insight into local sentiments about life in town.
Measure A, a half-cent sales tax for road maintenance, was approved by a supermajority of Truckee voters in 1997, but is set to expire in 2010. The town recently hired a research firm to conduct telephone surveys to get a feel for Truckee residents’ thoughts on renewing the tax.
What was learned, said Timothy McLarney, president of True North Research, was greater support for the tax than almost any other in the two firms’ experience.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a ballot measure of this kind have this much support,” said Charles Heath with Tramutola, the consulting firm that also worked with Tahoe Forest Hospital on the recent $98.5 million Measure C bond.
The phone survey tested 212 Truckee voters between Jan. 25 and Feb. 5, McLarney said. Because the poll only surveyed a fraction of residents, the results have a margin of error of just over six percent.
Callers first asked for a reaction to the tax, without explaining the details or telling voters that it was an extension of an existing tax, McLarney said, and when asked how they would vote, 53.1 percent said definitely yes, and 27.7 percent said probably yes, totaling nearly 81 percent support.
“That’s almost unheard of, I can’t recall ever doing a survey and starting at this point,” McLarney said.
Once the callers explained that the tax would just be an extension of an existing tax, support jumped to 88 percent, he said.
After running through arguments for and against the tax, the final tally came to 82 percent in favor, 13 percent against, and 5 percent unsure.
When asked why they wouldn’t vote yes, those who responded negatively gave fairly typical answers, McLarney said, such as a distrust for government and too many taxes already.
Tramutola also considered when the best time would be to put the 20-year extension to the voters, Heath said.
“The next opportunity would be the November general election,” Heath said. “We’ve found that as turnout increases, so does support. A presidential election would give
us the highest turnout possible.”
Heath said November would give the town enough time to prepare a ballot and get the word out to the voters, but the town council would have to make the decision at least 88 days prior to the Nov. 4 election to have enough time.