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of Public Opinion Research, Inc.

Main Office:
453 Springlake Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112

(717) 671-0776 Voice
(717) 671-1176 FAX


SE PA Regional Office:
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King of Prussia, PA 19406

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Pennsylvania County Officials Survey - 2002

Section I : General

  1. What is the population of your county?
  2. 60% Under 100,000
    15% 100,000 to 250,000
    20% 250,000 to 500,000
    4% 500,000 to 1 million
    1% Over 1 million

  3. What is the range of your county’s general fund?
  4. 59% Under $50 million
    8% $50 million to $100 million
    13% $100 million to $250 million
    18% Over $250 million
    2% No Answer

  5. How would you describe your county?
  6. 3% Predominantly Urban
    1% Predominantly Suburban
    59% Predominantly Rural
    36% Mixture Urban/Suburban/Rural
    1% No Answer

  7. How long have you served as a County Commissioner?
  8. 32% Less than 4 years
    38% 4 to 8 years
    20% 8 to 12 years
    10% More than 12 years

  9. Did you serve in elective office before becoming a County Commissioner?
  10. 41% YES
    59% NO

    If YES, what office did you hold?
    Township Supervisor (12)
    Borough Council (6)
    School Board (6)
    Mayor (3)
    District Attorney (1)
    Township Auditor (1)
    County Auditor (3)
    County Treasurer (2)
    City Council (2)
    Jury Commissioner (2)
    County Controller (1)
    District Justice (1)

  11. Are you a:

    34% Democrat
    66% Republican
    0% Independent

  12. What is the range of your earnings as a county official?
  13. 10% Less than $25,000
    62% $25,000 to $50,000
    22% $50,000 to $75,000
    6% Over $75,000

  14. Do you consider your position as a County Commissioner to be a full time job?

73% Yes
24% No
3% No Answer

Section II: State of your county

  1. How would you describe your county’s tax base?
  2. 42% Growing
    43% Steady
    13% Declining
    2% No Answer

  3. During your tenure as a county official has your county’s population INCREASED, DECREASED or STAYED RELATIVELY THE SAME?
  4. 56% Increased
    13% Decreased
    30% Stayed Relatively the Same
    1% No Answer

  5. What would you consider to be the dominant "industry" in your county?
  6. 37% Agriculture
    25% Manufacturing
    14% Service/Retail
    1% Technology
    10% Tourism/Recreation
    13% Other

  7. During your tenure as a County Commissioner have you RAISED the real estate millage rate?
  8. 81% Yes
    18% No
    1% No Answer

  9. During your tenure as a County Commissioner have you LOWERED the real estate millage rate?
  10. 20% Yes
    79% No
    1% No Answer

  11. When it comes to collective bargaining units in your county, would you say:
  12. 10% No employees are unionized
    30% Few employees are unionized
    51% Most employees are unionized
    5% All employees are unionized
    4% No Answer

  13. Generally speaking, do you think Pennsylvania’s system of real property taxation is fair to most segments of your community?
  14. 9% YES
    88% NO
    3% NO ANSWER

  15. Do you think counties should be given the ability to diversify their system of taxation by being able to enact taxes on earned income, and/or sales taxes?
  16. 94% YES
    3% NO
    3% NO ANSWER

  17. If you were given the ability to replace real property taxes with earned income and/or sales taxes, which would you enact?

20% EARNED INCOME TAX
8% SALES TAX
66% COMBINATION OF EARNED INCOME AND SALES TAXES
6% NO ANSWER

Section III: County Issues

  1. As a County Commissioner, how would you rate the importance to you and your county of the following issues:
  Very
Important
Somewhat
Important
Not
Important
No Answer
Declining tax base 63% 18% 17% 2%

Sprawl/open space preservation

37% 48% 14% 2%

Attracting jobs & economic development

91% 6% 0% 3%
Providing human services 65% 34% 1% 0%
Prisons 51% 43% 6% 0%

Infrastructure
(roads, bridges, etc.)

65% 25% 9% 1%
Public safety 67% 29% 3% 1%
Labor unions 15% 42% 42% 1%

Unfunded state and/or federal mandates

83% 13% 2% 3%
Tourist Promotion 67% 32% 0% 1%

  1. Has your county adopted a hotel occupancy tax (room) tax to support tourism promotion?
  2. 74% YES
    25% NO
    1% NO ANSWER

  3. Does your county own a trash incinerator?
  4. 4% YES
    95% NO
    1% NO ANSWER

    If "YES," do current revenues fully support the facility?

    100% YES
    0% NO

  5. Does your county own senior housing facilities?
  6. 30% YES
    70% NO

  7. Does your county operate a prison?

94% YES
6% NO

IF "YES," What is your average prison population"

59% Less than 250
18% 250 to 500
15% 500 to 1,000
8% Over 1,000

6) Does your county have a community college?

46% YES
53% NO
1% NO ANSWER

7) Does your county operate a nursing home?

54% YES
46% NO

If YES, do you manage your nursing home internally or do you contract out management?

60% MANAGE INTERNALLY
40% CONTRACT OUT MANAGEMENT

8) Generally speaking, when appropriate, do you AGREE or DISAGREE with the privatization or contracting out of county government services?

62% AGREE
18% DISAGREE
20% NO ANSWER

9) During your tenure as a County Commissioner has your county privatized or contracted out any service or function?

44% YES
55% NO
1% NO ANSWER

If "YES," What service(s) or function(s) did you privatize or contract out?

Prison (4)
Assessment Office (2)
Microfilm (2)
Data Base Management (2)
Grant Writing (1)
Dietary & Pharmacy at Nursing Home (1)
Auto Fleet (1)
Human Services (5)
Drug & Alcohol (2)
MH/MR (1)
Food Service at Prison (1)
Building Maintenance (3)
Security (3)
Custodial (2)
Lawn Care Maintenance (4)
Planning Department (1)
Court Reporters (1)
Solid Waste (1)

The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research’s survey of County Commissioners / County Executives / County Council members in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was conducted from May 21, 2002 to June 10, 2002. Surveys were sent to 226 elected officials, as of the survey deadline 79 had responded. Complete numeric results of this survey can be found on-line at www.lincolninstitute.org.